ASSEMBLY OF AMERICA
Date: July 24,
HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES ASSISTANCE FOR NATIONS HOSTING SYRIAN
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the U.S. House
Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 State, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations Bill, the Armenian
Assembly of America (Assembly) reported. In total, the bill provides $47.4
billion in funding for SFOPS, which is $10 billion less than FY17. The bill
maintains Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and includes language for aid
to nations hosting Syrian refugees.
Report highlighted the need for additional assistance to "vulnerable
populations in Syria and in neighboring countries," comprised of Syrian
refugees, Christians, and other minorities affected by the Syrian civil war and
persecuted by the Islamic State (ISIS). The Committee raised concerns regarding
"the lengthy displacement of Syrians and the ongoing burden they face, as
well as the continued strain Syrian refugees are placing on host
commend the House Appropriations Committee for emphasizing the importance of
humanitarian aid for both refugees and the nations hosting them," Assembly
Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. "To date, Armenia has welcomed over
22,000 refugees from Syria who have escaped with their families. As conditions
worsen in Syria, Armenia continues to serve as a sanctuary for persecuted
Christians and other at-risk groups escaping genocide and violence in the
Middle East. As the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues, we must ensure that
relief aid reaches those in need, which includes Armenia as a host nation for
refugee resettlement," he added.
the designation of genocide committed against religious minorities in Syria and
Iraq by Islamist extremists made by Secretary of State John Kerry on March 18,
2016, the bill allocates funds to "be made available for programs to
protect vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities." This includes
programs authorized by H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief
and Accountability Act of 2017, which the Armenian Assembly strongly supported,
and was unanimously adopted by the House of Representatives on June 6, 2017.
The Committee recommends not less than $10 million to be made available for
programs to protect vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities. In
addition, the bill states that $10 million should also be made available for
international religious freedom programs.
Report also incorporated a section on Genocide Victim Memorial Sites and
Tribunals, where funds are appropriated "to establish and maintain
memorial sites of genocide" in Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.
Armenian Assembly will continue to push for additional assistance. Despite
reductions across the board, it is imperative that Armenia and Artsakh have the
resources necessary to address the compelling humanitarian needs as a result of
the current refugee crisis as well as Azerbaijan's ongoing and deadly ceasefire
violations," Ardouny stated.
President's budget cut aid to Azerbaijan, it also sharply reduced proposed aid
to Armenia. The President's budget request for Armenia included $4 million in
Economic Support and Development Fund, $1.5 million for International Narcotics
Control and Law Enforcement, and $700,000 for Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism,
Demining, and Related Programs. The House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and
Emerging Threats will hold a hearing tomorrow entitled “Examining the
President’s FY 2018 Budget Proposal for Europe and Eurasia” for further
in the House Appropriations Committee completed, attention turns to the Senate
Appropriations Committee, where a mark-up of its version of the bill is
submitted testimony earlier this year to the House Appropriations State, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee highlighting key areas of
concern, including the ongoing Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, the need for
continued and robust funding as well as safeguarding of Christian minorities at
risk in the Middle East, and support for a second U.S.-Armenia Millennium
On March 17,
Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and House Intelligence
Committee Ranking Member and Armenian Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
provided testimony in support of aid to Armenia and Artsakh as the
Administration first released the budget blueprint for FY18. They also signed a
bipartisan letter, initiated by Rep. Pallone, on March 30 advocating "to
advance U.S. interests by strengthening Armenia's independence, promoting peace
in Nagorno-Karabagh, and supporting Armenia as a regional safe haven for
at-risk Middle East refugees" with Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier
(D-CA) and 22 other Representatives.
by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), 27 Members of Congress sent a letter last month to
House Appropriations SFOPS Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) and
Ranking Member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) expressing concern about the 67 percent
reduction in foreign aid to Armenia.
time of tremendous global uncertainty, the U.S. should continue to foster the
progress of its allies, not retreat from its responsibilities as the world's
leading democracy. As the U.S. and Armenia commemorate the 25th anniversary of
diplomatic relations, we urge the committee to reject the harmful cuts to U.S.
aid to Armenia proposed by the President's FY18 budget," the
Representatives stated in the letter.
The FY 2018
State and Foreign Operations Bill – Full Committee Draft is available here.
The FY 2018
State and Foreign Operations Bill – Full Committee Report is available here.
Assembly of America's FY 2017 Testimony is available here.
in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based
nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of
Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership