U.S. HOUSE STATE-FOREIGN OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE MAINTAINS PARITY IN MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN
An amendment championed by Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Joe Knollenberg
(R-MI) to cut all military aid to Azerbaijan due to their escalating
threats of war against Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia was defeated by
one vote during a meeting of the U.S. House State-Foreign Operations
Subcommittee to consider the Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09) foreign aid bill,
the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reported.
"We want to thank Joe Knollenberg for his leadership in seeking to zero
out military aid to Azerbaijan, and to express our appreciation to
all those, like Congressmen Adam Schiff and Mark Kirk, who supported
this vital legislative effort to promote peace and stability in the
Caucasus," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
"At the same time, especially given the razor-thin margin of this vote,
we are saddened and disappointed by the opposition of Chairwoman Lowey,
and the other Representatives who, although traditionally friends
of the Armenian American community – cast their votes to block the
adoption of this badly needed measure: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Steve
Israel, Ben Chandler, Steve Rothman, Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum,
and David Obey."
Last month, during a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep.
Knollenberg cross-examined Assistant Secretary of State Da n Fried
regarding the State Department failure to meaningfully challenge
Azerbaijan’s war rhetoric against neighboring Nagorno Karabakh and
Earlier today, as he entered the foreign aid mark-up, the Michigan
legislator stated, that: "For the security of Armenia and the region,
I strongly believe that the Azeri war machine must be stopped. This
is why it is completely unbelievable and unacceptable that there
would be any U.S.
funding of Azerbaijan’s military. I will fight to strip this money from
the budget to ensure Armenia’s continued safety. The U.S. absolutely
must not fund or support the Azeri bellicose behavior."
The panel approved $52 million in assistance to Armenia, $8 for
Nagorno Karabakh and, by rejecting the Knollenberg Amendment,
effectively maintained parity in military assistance to Armenia and
Azerbaijan. According to traditional Congressional practice, the bill
next goes to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration before
reaching the House floor, although the exact legislative path for this
measure remains unclear. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is
scheduled to consider the Senate version of the foreign aid bill on
Thursday, July 17th.