WASHINGTON, DC—The U.S. House Rules Committee – under the leadership of Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) – has cleared the way for the ANCA-backed amendment calling for continued US aid for Artsakh demining to be considered and voted upon by the full US House of Representatives, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The U.S. House is set to take up the amendment as early as Thursday, July 23, as it begins consideration of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Foreign Aid Bill (H.R.7608). Artsakh aid supporters can contact their U.S. Representatives to vote “yes” on the amendment by visiting anca.org/call.
“We want to thank Chairman McGovern for ensuring that the full U.S. House has the opportunity to show support for Artsakh and all Armenians in the wake of the deadliest Azerbaijani attack in years,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “Our community is deeply grateful for the leadership of Representatives Jackie Speier, TJ Cox, Gus Bilirakis, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Brad Sherman, Devin Nunes, Jim Costa and all those who are working so hard for peace.”
The Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) aid amendment #49 to H.R.7608 calls for $1.4 million in U.S. aid to Artsakh to continue the life-saving de-mining efforts of The HALO Trust. The bi-partisan amendment was led by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA), Representatives TJ Cox (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and supported by over 30 House members including Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Susie Lee (D-NV), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Max Rose (D-NY), Harley Rouda (D-CA), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Janet Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Juan Vargas (D-CA). No other amendment to the FY2021 Foreign Aid Bill had as many co-sponsors.
The Rules Committee ruled “out of order” Amendment #69, introduced by Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus and Turkey Caucus Co-Chair Steve Cohen (D-TN), which sought to block any US funding for humanitarian de-mining in Artsakh. A similarly hostile amendment, offered by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), was withdrawn earlier today. The panel also ruled out of order the ANCA-backed Speier-Sherman-Costa Amendment #50 which would have increased US aid to Armenia by $20 million.
Continued aid to Artsakh to support demining and rehabilitation efforts has been a key part of the ANCA’s 360-degree policy priorities to ensure Artsakh security and freedom. In testimony to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year, ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan argued that “The U.S. aid program to Nagorno Karabakh may require only a small expenditure, but it represents a major American investment in peace.” She went on to note that despite exceptional progress in The HALO Trust’s effort to make Artsakh mine-free, more needed to be done. “While the exact percentage of territory requiring clearance remains uncertain, The HALO Trust’s village-by-village resurvey has already identified 1.8 million square meters of additional contamination in the highly populated Martakert region, a figure that will certainly increase as the re-survey continues. All told, 385 people have been killed or injured by landmines or other explosives in Nagorno Karabakh since 1995, including several HALO trust employees in just the past few years,” explained Yerimyan.
The United States has been funding humanitarian programs in Artsakh since 1998, providing clean water to rural communities, support for maternal and child health, and life-saving demining assistance. Artsakh assistance has been long under attack by Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime, and over the past two years, aggressively targeted by the Trump administration, even as it ramps up U.S. defense and security aid to Baku.
Tens of thousands of advocates have contacted Congress in support of continued US demining assistance to Artsakh through the ANCA’s online action portals. ANCA Leo Sarkisian and Maral Melkonian Avetisyan Summer program participants have been rallying nationwide constituent outreach in support of continued Artsakh aid. Letters to Senate and House members can be sent by visiting anca.org/alert. Constituents can be directly connected to their US Representative by phone through the ANCA’s Quick Connect system by visiting anca.org/call. Grassroots outreach to Congressional offices will continue until the FY2021 Foreign Aid Bill is finalized.