WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House Rules Committee – chaired by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) – cleared the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.296, for an up-or-down vote of the full House of Representatives, as early as the afternoon of Tuesday, October 29th, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). The bipartisan measure will reach the House floor under a “closed” rule, which will allow Representatives to vote on the resolution, as introduced, without amendments.
“We want to thank Chairman McGovern for his principled leadership and to share our profound appreciation with Chairman Engel, Congressman Smith, and Congresswoman Eshoo for their powerful testimony in support of a full U.S. House vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “Most importantly, we encourage our community and coalition partners to continue calling in to Congress, demanding passage of H.Res.296, by visiting www.anca.org/call.”
Preliminary indications are that the “Rule” for consideration of the Armenian Genocide Resolution will be discussed Tuesday, October 29th, starting about 12:30pm for up to 1 hour, with the House floor discussion starting as early as 2:45pm and lasting up to 1 hour. The vote would take place soon thereafter. Times are subject to change based on the Congressional schedule.
Chairman McGovern opened the hearing with powerful opening remarks, stating that H.Res.296 “is an opportunity for the House to speak loudly and about the Armenian Genocide and finally acknowledge what it actually was, a genocide. Although the executive branch has issued proclamations and Congress has passed measures over the years on this, none in modern times have actually relayed all the facts and called it what it really was. Enough with the euphemisms, facts are important, speaking the truth is important, and if dark chapters in our history are not acknowledged, they are doomed to be repeated.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Senior Republican Member Chris Smith (R-NJ) offered compelling testimony in support of a closed rule and favorable consideration of H.Res.296 when it reaches the House floor.
“Many of us are concerned with what’s going on in various parts of the world. The Armenian Genocide is a Genocide, and many of us are concerned with, frankly, others, including the Kurds. It is happening right now and Turkey is again in the thick of things. So, I think if there was never a right time to release this before, now is definitely the right time,” said Chairman Engel.
“They [Turkey] threaten other countries! They threaten us! When I had a hearing in 2000, the ambassador of Turkey, because I had both sides at the table – the Armenians and the Turks – he threatened us with Incerlik. Frankly, with a friend like that in NATO, who needs enemies?” said Rep. Smith.
Procedural opposition to the resolution was raised by Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Rules Committee Ranking Republican Tom Cole (R-OK), who noted that H.Res.296 is moving straight to the House floor without a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Chairman McGovern noted that the Republican and Democratic leaders of this panel had given their green-light to fast-track consideration of H.Res.296, and both Chairman Engel and Representative Smith noted that the facts of the Armenian Genocide have been firmly established in the U.S. House during the course of multiple Congressional hearings over the course of the past two decades.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who is of Armenian and Assyrian heritage, made an impassioned plea for passage of the resolution during her testimony in support of H.Res.296. Last week, Rep. Eshoo told Congressional colleagues, “Members of my own family were among those murdered. My mother escaped with my grandmother from Armenia, and my father, an Assyrian Christian, was driven from the Middle East. Both carried the terror of the atrocities of the Ottoman Turks for a lifetime.”
Other Rules Committee members speaking in favor of the measure included Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-NY), who noted his support for Armenian Genocide legislation when he served in the New York State Assembly and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who is of Lebanese origin and who described how her Maronite family was displaced during the Armenian Genocide. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) noted that she was an original cosponsor of the measure and supports its adoption, and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), noted that she learned about the Armenian Genocide through archives in Pennsylvania and the Mher Statue in downtown Philadelphia.
Tonight’s House Rules Committee action opens the path for the first U.S. House of Representatives vote affirming the Armenian Genocide in over 30 years. The bipartisan measure — strongly supported by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) — would lock in U.S. acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide and strike a powerful blow against the gag-rule that Turkey has long enforced against honest American remembrance of this crime.
Led by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Florida Republican Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the Armenian Genocide Resolution has been gaining momentum in the past week – particularly following Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. The measure currently has over 140 cosponsors. A similar version in the Senate (S.Res.150) – led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) – has 18 cosponsors and continues to attract growing support.
The U.S. House will also vote on H.R.4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act, that would impose harsh sanctions on Turkey over its recent invasion of northern Syria. The Armenian National Committee of America strongly supports passage of that measure as well.
The ANCA, over the course of many decades, has pushed back against Turkey’s heavy-handed denial, striving to put America on the right side of the Armenian Genocide. During the current session of Congress, the ANCA worked closely with House and Senate leaders to secure votes on H.Res.296 and S.Res.150 since they were introduced in April, 2019. Over the past weeks, thousands of letters and phone calls have already been made by Armenian American advocates through the ANCA online portals – anca.org/genocide and anca.org/call. The ANCA teamed up with the Armenian Youth Federation Eastern and Western United States for a targeted social media effort to expand community participation in the lead-up to the vote.
ANCA leaders and advocates from across the U.S., including ANCA National Board member Ani Tchaghlasian, ANCA Western Region Board Members Raffi Kassabian, Hermine Pakhanians, and Raffi Sarkisian, ANCA Nevada’s Hera Armenian, and AYF Western Region Central Executive Member Hakob Hajibekyan joined with ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan, ANCA Western Region Government Affairs Coordinator Arsen Shirvanyan, Community Development Coordinator Simon Maghakyan, veteran ANCA staff Dickran Khodanian and Justin Kaladjian for a targeted fly-in to secure passage of H.Res.296. ANCA Capital Gateway Fellows, Leo Sarkisian Internship alumni, and AYFers including Nairi Diratsouian, Daron Pogharian, Varant Anmahouni, Alex Manoukian and Nareg Kouyoumjian partnered with Programs Director Sipan Ohannesian in the ANCA mission to meet with every Congressional office prior to the vote.
Greek, Assyrian, Jewish Groups Rally Support for Armenian Genocide Resolution
Traditional support by Hellenic American, Assyrian American, and a broad range of human rights organizations was augmented today by the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee, with both organizations issuing statements in support of the measure.
“This historic Congressional resolution, while long overdue, is an important step toward raising awareness and educating the American public about the horrific genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians during the early part of the 1900s,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The 20th century saw the worst episodes of genocide in recorded human history, beginning with the Armenian Genocide, through the Holocaust and all the way to the atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda. Indeed, historians note that Hitler viewed the Armenian Genocide and the world’s indifference toward it as inspiration to launch his own genocidal campaign across Europe. We believe that remembering and educating about any genocide – Armenian, the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, and others – is a necessary tool to prevent future tragedies and begins with recognition.”
AJC Executive Director tweeted the organization’s support for the measure, stating, “This week, US Congress takes up a resolution on Armenian Genocide. Starting in 1915, Ottoman Empire decimated Armenian Christian population. 1st genocide of the 20th century. To this day, Turkey tries to deny this documented crime. Don’t let it. That’s why we support H.Res. 296.”