WASHINGTON, DC – A select, bipartisan group of 88 US Congressional candidates from 22 states has earned Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) endorsements for their sustained pro-Armenia and Artsakh records of support on ANCA-backed initiatives during the 117th Congress (2021-22).
Heading up the ANCA’s Senate endorsement list are Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio and California Democrat Alex Padilla, each of whom have worked closely with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to stop US military assistance to Azerbaijan. Sen. Rubio joined Sen. Menendez in introducing S.Res.797, which condemns Azerbaijan’s September attacks on sovereign Armenian territory, calls for increased aid to Artsakh and demands Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime. Sen. Padilla is leading an amendment to the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act which calls for an investigation into the use of US technology in attacks against Armenia and Artsakh. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Appropriations Committee member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) continues to have earned ANCA support for advancing multiple amendments to block the sale of F-16s and F-16 upgrade kits to Turkey.
In the hotly contested Pennsylvania open Senate race, the ANCA is rallying to defeat Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Turkish dual citizen and ally of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who refuses to recognize Turkey’s systematic mass murder of over three million Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and other Christians as genocide. The ANCA has endorsed Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who has been outspoken in his support for pro-Armenian and pro-Greek initiatives. “As a Pennsylvanian, I welcomed long overdue US government recognition of the Armenian Genocide – by the US House and Senate in 2019 and by President Biden in 2021 – and will, as a US Senator, support promoting public education about this atrocity,” Fetterman told the ANCA. On US aid to Azerbaijan, Fetterman has stated that he joins with Chairman Menendez in “calling for an immediate suspension of US military aid to Azerbaijan and a robust US humanitarian aid program for the victims of Azerbaijani aggression in both Artsakh and Armenia.”
Also earning ANCA endorsements were Congressional Armenian Caucus founder and co-chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who is the most traveled US Representative to Artsakh and Armenia, most recently as part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delegation to Yerevan immediately after Azerbaijan’s September attacks on Armenia and Artsakh. Rep. Pallone, along with Armenian Caucus co-chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) are at the forefront of legislation (H.Res.1351 and H.Res.1400) condemning Azerbaijan’s attacks against Armenia and Artsakh and demanding accountability from the Aliyev regime for war crimes.
A key ANCA endorsement in California’s Central Valley is Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), who has been at the forefront of a broad array of Congressional efforts to expand aid to Artsakh and Armenia, pressing the Biden administration in both House floor statements and committee hearing to “do more” to address humanitarian and security needs. Hellenic American Representatives Bilirakis, Mike Pappas (D-NH) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) have led multiple Congressional letters, supported by the ANCA, to block US F-16 sales to Turkey. Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus recently joined Rep. Pallone in leading a bipartisan Congressional letter calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power to “take immediate steps dedicating significant resources” to support the at-risk Armenian population of Artsakh.
New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer joined the ANC of New Jersey in meeting with Armenian refugees from the 2020 Artsakh War in a bid to better understand the situation on the ground and expand Artsakh aid. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), who works closely with the ANCA of Orange County, was endorsed again for her consistent support for Armenian Genocide education and commemoration and condemnation of Azerbaijan’s attacks against Armenia. Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Adam Schiff led the successful passage of amendments in the FY22 and FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) calling for an investigation into the use of US parts in Turkish drones by Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s use of white phosphorous, cluster bombs and prohibited munitions in Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan’s recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters during the 2020 conflict in the region.
The ANCA will be bidding a fond farewell to Rep. Jackie Speier, one of two Armenian American members of the US House, who will be retiring at the end of this term, endorsing California Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, who is running for her Northern California seat. Other ANCA endorsed candidates running for open seats include Vermont’s Rep. Peter Welch, who is campaigning to replace retiring Senator Patrick Leahy and Vermont State Senator Becca Balint, who is running to replace Rep. Peter Welch. In New Jersey, Robert Menendez Jr., the son of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez, has the ANCA’s support in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ).
“The ANCA carefully tracks and publicly reports the records of each and every member of Congress – as a public service to our community and coalition partners – and then, based on these criteria, offers endorsements of our legislative champions to help empower Armenian Americans as fully informed voters,” said ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian. “As we have seen so often, our diversity, as a community, across the American political spectrum represents an enduring strength, as does our willingness to cross party lines when Armenian issues are at stake.”
Each ANCA endorsement is backed up by detailed Report Cards documenting the track record of each incumbent Senator and Representative across a broad range of Armenian American issues – including US-Armenia relations, Artsakh’s freedom and security, and justice for the Armenian Genocide, as well as legislative initiatives related to US policy toward Turkey – ranging from human rights and the occupation of Cyprus to its aggression against Armenia, Greece and the region. Also taken into consideration are membership in the Armenian Caucus; travel to Armenia and Artsakh; participation in Armenian American events commemorating the Armenian Genocide, celebrating Artsakh’s freedom and marking Armenia’s independence; engagement with local Armenian American constituents; and, significantly, support for a broad array of Congressional letters on ANCA-backed advocacy priorities – including the FY22 and FY23 foreign aid bills and the NDAA.
Among the key pieces of legislation scored as part of the ANCA Report Cards were the following:
— Armenian Genocide Education Act H.R.7555
— Resolution Urging the Release of Armenian POWs, H.Res.240
— Resolution Condemning Azerbaijan’s Attack on Armenia, S.Res.797 / H.Res.1351
— Resolution Demanding Sanction against Azerbaijan for Atrocities Committed Against Armenia, H.Res.1400
ANCA Report Cards include three distinct sections:
— A point by point overview of the Senator’s / Representative’s support on legislation, Congressional letters, and participation in Capitol Hill events advancing Armenian American priorities.
— A “Social Media” section spotlighting pro-Artsakh/Armenia statements made on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
— A “Congressional Notes” section spotlighting additional statements and community outreach efforts on issues of Armenian American concern.
ANCA Report Cards also feature a “Congressional Bio” link which offers information about the elected official’s background, education, prior occupation, committees they serve on and methods to contact their Senate/House offices. It also includes links to reach out to Senators and Representatives via social media to share Armenian American concerns.
ANCA Report Cards are prepared in close consultation with ANCA regional and local stakeholders across the country.