House Democratic Whip David Bonior Calls for Vote On Genocide Bill

WASHINGTON–Bipartisan Congressional support for bringing the Armenian Genocide Resolution to a vote continued to expand this week–with Democratic Whip David Bonior calling on Speaker Dennis Hastert to bring the measure to the House floor as soon as possible.

On August 26–during a meeting in California with Armenian American community leaders–Speaker Hastert had announced that he intends to bring H.Res.398 to a vote on the House floor this September. The measure has been cosponsored by a diverse–bipartisan group of over 135 Representatives.

Congressman Bonior–a long-time advocate for the Armenian Genocide Resolution–is an original cosponsor of H.Res.398–along with Rep. George Radanovich. Despite the Speaker’s positive commen’s–the Democratic Whip pointed out that:

"Unfortunately–the House International Relations Committee has not yet moved forward to report the resolution to the floor of the House–and it is my understanding that several members of the majority leadership have been attempting to block its consideration."

The next legislative step for the Armenian Genocide Resolution is its consideration–during the coming week–by the House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations. This panel is chaired by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey–a vocal supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition and commemoration.

The text of Democratic Whip David Bonior’s letter to the Speaker is provided below.

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I urge you to schedule H.Res. 398–bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Radanovich and myself–for consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

The resolution is a sensible statement of the Congress’s belief that the genocide committed against Armenia’s in the early 20th Century should be recognized appropriately. I have been involved with the Genocide Resolution beginning in 1987–when I managed the rule for debate in the House of Representatives on the resolution. As a student of history–I had always been outraged that this terrible tragedy was not recognized by Congress or the President.

The evidence is very clear that this genocide occurred. Furthermore–we know from the history of nations throughout the world that recognizing inhumanity is the first step towards healing and understanding. The current tensions between Turkey–Azerbaijan and Armenia are deeply rooted in this history–and achieving a just and lasting peace and cooperation will only be possible if the past is acknowledged. But it will not happen on its own. That’s why congressional action on the Armenian Genocide resolution is so important. Unfortunately–the House International Relations Committee has not yet moved forward to report the resolution to the floor of the House–and it is my understanding that several members of the majority leadership have been attempting to block its consideration.

This resolution has a long history of bipartisan support. Since 1995–Rep. Radanovich and I have worked together to achieve passage of the resolution. We believe that now is the time to move forward.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David E. Bonior

Democratic Whip

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