ANCA Welcomes GOP’s Trott and Bilirakis to Congressional Armenian Caucus

Rep. David Trott (center) with ANC of MI and community activists and Knox Thames, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Religious Minorities in the Near East.  In March, 2016, Rep. Trott facilitated a community meeting with Mr. Thames to discuss the plight of Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East.
Rep. David Trott (center) with ANC of MI and community activists and Knox Thames, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Religious Minorities in the Near East.  In March, 2016, Rep. Trott facilitated a community meeting with Mr. Thames to discuss the plight of Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East.

Rep. David Trott (center) with ANC of MI and community activists and Knox Thames, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Religious Minorities in the Near East. In March, 2016, Rep. Trott facilitated a community meeting with Mr. Thames to discuss the plight of Armenian and other Christian communities in the Middle East.

Renews On-Line Campaign Calling for Increased Bi-Partisan Armenian Caucus Membership

WASHINGTON—The Armenian National Committee of America on Friday welcomed Michigan Congressman David Trott (R-Mich.) as the new Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues joining Caucus founder Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and David Valadao (R-CA) in leading bi-partisan efforts to advance Armenian American policy priorities and strengthen US – Armenia ties in the upcoming 115th Congress. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) will join the Caucus leadership team as Republican Vice-Chair alongside Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The news was issued in a joint release by the Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership earlier today.

“We join with friends of Armenia from across America in thanking outgoing Congressman Dold for his exemplary service as Caucus Co-Chairman and in welcoming Congressman Trott, who will now serve in this leadership role, and also, of course, Congressman Bilirakis, the new Vice-Chairman of this bipartisan legislative group,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“With such a strong leadership team in place, the Caucus is set to advance legislative priorities that strengthen Armenia, defend Artsakh, secure justice for the Armenian Genocide, and grow the U.S.-Armenia relationship.”

Rep. Trott accepted the appointment with gratitude, stating, “It is a privilege and an honor to be selected to serve as a Co-chair of the Armenian Caucus for the 115th Congress. For decades, the Armenian community has been an integral part of the fabric of Southeast Michigan, and I am looking forward to serving as their representative in Congress, continuing to make sure that their views are heard in Washington.”

Rep. Trott received an “A+” rating from the ANCA in 2016 for his consistent support and leadership on issues of concern to the Armenian American community. In April, 2015, he joined Representatives Pallone, Speier and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as part of the U.S. Presidential delegation commemorating the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan. He has been an outspoken leader advocating for justice for the Armenian Genocide, and the proper recognition and condemnation of the ongoing genocide against Christians and other minority communities in the Middle East. Rep. Trott has also called for the implementation of the Royce-Engel measures for Artsakh peace, cosigning letters to the U.S. Administration to take immediate action to 1) remove snipers from the Armenia / Artsakh – Azerbaijan line of contact, 2) deploy additional Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors to the line of contact, and 3) install a gun-locator system to clearly identify the aggressors and the source of attacks. Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) have agreed to the measures; Azerbaijan has not.

Rep. Trott was first elected to Congress in 2014 and serves on both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. He represents Michigan’s 11th district, which includes Plymouth, Livonia, Novi, Birmingham and Troy, among other cities.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) with ANCA Government Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian and ANCA Eastern Region Board Member Armen Sahakyan at the 2016 Capitol Hill commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) with ANCA Government Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian and ANCA Eastern Region Board Member Armen Sahakyan at the 2016 Capitol Hill commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Congressman Bilirakis has a strong and principled track record of supporting the full range of Armenian community advocacy priorities, including Armenian Genocide legislation and the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act, which calls for Turkey’s return of confiscated Christian Churches in legislation first adopted by the U.S. House in 2011 and reinforced by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2014. Like Rep. Trott, he has an “A+” rating from the ANCA, and has supported the Royce-Engel measures for Artsakh peace. He has also been a vocal advocate of expanded U.S. assistance to Armenia and Artsakh.

“It is an honor to serve in this new role as Vice-Chair of the Armenian Caucus,” stated Rep. Bilirakis. “I have been a friend of the Armenian people and stood in solidarity with them as they continue to seek recognition of the genocide that massacred 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women, and children at the hands of the Ottoman empire. I look forward to working with the Caucus in a bipartisan manner to push for this acknowledgment as well as to strengthen U.S. ties with Armenia and serve as a voice for Armenian-Americans in my district and around the country. Together, we will strive towards a more prosperous future for our two allied nations.”

Bilirakis was first elected to Congress in 2006 and represents the 12th District of Florida, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is vice-chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is a leader in a number of Congressional Caucuses including co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance.

The Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues was founded by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and former Congressman John Porter (R-IL) in 1995. Since that time, the bi-partisan panel has been at the forefront of Congressional action on a broad range of Armenian American concerns – from justice for the Armenian Genocide, to self-determination for Nagorno Karabakh, stronger U.S.-Armenia ties, and support for the Armenian communities in the Republic of Georgia and oppressed Armenian and other Christian communities around the world.

Among the legislative priorities the ANCA looks forward to advancing during the upcoming 115th Congress as it continues to work with the Congressional Armenian Caucus are:

— Strengthening Armenia as a secure, prosperous, democratic homeland, through, among other initiatives, new U.S. education partnerships, the elimination of double taxation, and direct Los Angeles to Yerevan flights;

— Defending Artsakh’s right to security and self-determination, challenging Baku’s aggression, investigating Azerbaijani war crimes, and strengthening the 1994 ceasefire, including through the deployment of gunfire locator systems;

— Securing a just international resolution of the Armenian Genocide, and, more broadly, facilitating a fundamental review of U.S.-Turkey ties that assesses an array of concerns, including the risk of continuing to position nuclear weapons at Incirlik air base.

— With Syria at a turning point, pressing the new Administration to protect Armenians, our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, and other at-risk Middle East ethnic and religious minorities;

— Supporting Armenia as a safe haven for Syrian Armenians through increased U.S. and interventional transition assistance for those seeking to mark Armenia their home;

— Securing continued Congressional Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations for Nagorno Karabakh, including for HALO Trust’s de-mining and the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center .

The ANCA is renewing its on-line campaign to expand Congressional Armenian Caucus Membership, urging Armenian-Americans to call on their House legislators to join and thank those who have already shown their leadership in this bi-partisan panel.

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