WASHINGTON, DC –Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA) secured strong bipartisan support on Tuesday for the adoption, by the full U.S. House, of her amendment appropriating $40 million in democracy aid to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Her amendment, co-sponsored by fellow Armenian Caucus leaders, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), was adopted by a vote of 268 to 152.
“The broad-based backing we saw today on the House floor for Representative Speier’s amendment reflects a powerful bipartisan Congressional consensus in support of Armenia’s democratic aspirations and continued investments in the growth of the U.S.-Armenia strategic partnership,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We thank Congresswoman Speier for her principled leadership and share our appreciation with all those who voted in favor of her amendment.”
“Congress’ approval of this measure sends a strong signal to Armenians that the United States recognizes their inspiring democratic progress, supports their quest to build a more accountable government, and will continue to work with them to build resilient, responsive institutions,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
Last week, during House floor debate on her amendment, Rep. Speier spoke passionately about Armenia’s Velvet Revolution during House consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 Foreign Aid Bill, noting that “it is very important at this point in time that we do everything in our power to support this new democracy.” Citing an earlier U.S. commitment of $60 million to assist Armenia’s democratic transformation, Rep. Speier argued more is needed. “Armenia has a rare and potentially fleeting window of opportunity to consolidate and build upon its democratic gains. […] Armenia has earned a clear signal that the United States supports its democratic transformation and resources will be brought to them to carry out that transformation.”
House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) concurred, stating that “the progress made in Armenia’s transition to democracy and the Velvet Revolution is a refreshing development at a time when so many other countries are headed in the opposite direction.” Chairwoman Lowey continued “I’m prepared to work to provide the necessary resources to encourage continued progress in Armenia.” Ranking Republican of the Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) opposed the measure, noting: “the funding directed in this amendment is a significant increase above current levels. It could result in funds being cut from important partners in Europe facing Russian aggression.”
The House voted on Rep. Speier’s amendment as part of its consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 foreign aid bill, H.R.2740.
Thousands of ANCA Rapid Responders and Armenian Americans across the U.S. reached out to their U.S. Representatives in support of the Speier Amendment for Armenia assistance through the ANCA’s March to Justice portal. In the days leading up to the vote, ANCA Leo Sarkisian Summer Interns amplified the nationwide constituent advocacy, visiting with every U.S. House office in support of the measure.
In March, the ANCA worked closely with Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership in support of a Congressional letter, supported by over 35 Members of Congress, to the House Appropriations Committee leadership outlining a range of U.S. foreign assistance priorities, including aid to the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.
During testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the ANCA stressed that “In the aftermath of Armenia’s constitutional, political transition and recent free and fair elections, we want to share our special thanks with the Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in fostering the bilateral friendship of our two nations, to voice our appreciation for the steady progress of Armenia’s aid-to-trade transition, and to seek your continued support for strengthening Armenia’s independence, securing a durable and democratic peace for Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), and sustaining Armenia as a regional safe haven for at-risk refugees.”