ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION PASSED BY 23 TO 22
Yerevan (Yerkir) – After nearly three hours of debate, and in a
drawn-out two-hour vote, the House of Representatives’ Committee
on Foreign Affairs narrowly passed the Armenian Genocide resolution
with 23 votes in favor and 22 in opposition, the Armenian Reporter
reproted. House Resolution 252 affirms the U.S. record on the
Armenian Genocide and recommends to the administration to reflect
that understanding in U.S. foreign policy.
As the committee meeting got underway, it emerged that a day earlier
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked committee chair Rep.
Howard Berman (D.-Calif.) to hold off on the vote, but Mr. Berman
nevertheless proceeded with the vote.
The Associated Press cited White House spokesperson Mike Hammer as
saying that Mrs. Clinton claimed that the vote would run counter to
efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey; the same
argument has been made by the Turkish government.
The secretary of state and other U.S. officials made no such arguments
when asked about the resolution in weeks before the vote. The latest
intervention reportedly came following a call placed by Turkish
President Abdullah Gul to President Barack Obama.
At the end of a three-hour debate, 13 members spoke in favor of the
resolution with 14 speaking in opposition pointing to a close vote
The only Muslim member of Congress Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in his
first remarks on the Genocide resolution spoke in favor of passage,
stressing its importance for defense of human rights.
Committee Chair Berman, Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Chris Smith
(R-N.J.), Don Payne (D-N.J.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher
(R-Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Gus
Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
– all long-time affirmation supporters – also spoke in favor of
Rep. Smith, in particular, called Turkey’s denial of the genocide
and lack of appropriate condemnation an "assault on the dignity of
the Armenian people." For his part, Rep. Sherman urged members of
Congress "not to act like cowards" in face of "hollow" Turkish
threats. He listed America’s many contributions to Turkey’s security
and development, as well as Armenia’s efforts to assist U.S. policies,
as he argued forcefully in favor of the measure.
Rep. Sherman also noted that Armenia’s leaders supported the
resolution’s passage and argued that unless U.S. stopped deferring
to Turkey, Armenia-Turkey protocols will remain stuck due to the
Turkish government’s refusal to ratify them.
The committee’s most senior Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-Fla.) spoke repeatedly against passing the resolution citing
national security concerns.
Long-time resolution opponent Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) cited the
Armenia-Turkey protocols signed last October, and particularly the
clause on "sub-commission on historical dimension," as an argument
against the resolution.
Also citing the protocols were two past resolution supporters, Reps.
Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) who this time vote
against, arguing that resolution’s passage would "harm Armenians."
Opposing the resolution were recently elected Committee members Reps.
Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), who claimed that
the resolution does not help America’s foreign policy priorities.
Also speaking in opposition were Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), John Tanner
(D-Tenn.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), Ted Poe
(R-Tex.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Ron Paul
Voting began at 2:15 PM EST as scheduled and continued for an hour
and a half. More resolution opponents voted early on, putting the
ultimate passage in question. It was not until minutes before the
vote was closed that a narrow majority for passage was established.
As Mr. Berman read out the final tabulated votes, 23 in favor,
22 against, the audience in the hearing room which included three
Armenian Genocide survivors broke into cheers.
Also present at the debate were three members of the Armenian
parliament and eight members of the Turkish parliament along with
ambassadors from Turkey and Armenia.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress