Delay Tactics Prevent Vote on Genocide Bill

WASHINGTON–Following more than three and a half hours of debate–characterized by extensive delaying tactics and parliamentary maneuvers–opponents of the Armenian Genocide Resolution Thursday forced a delay in the House International Relations Committee’s vote on the measure.

The opposition to the adoption of the resolution was led by Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). These two legislators–recognizing that a bipartisan majority in the Committee supports the resolution–worked together to introduce amendmen’s and use other procedural tactics to delay a vote on the measure. These delays forced the committee meeting–which began at 10 a.m.–to continue until the last vote of the day on the House floor at 2 p.m. At this point–the Chairman of the panel–Ben Gilman (R-NY)–in recognition of the fact that the majority of Members would be leaving Washington–DC to return to their districts–announced that consideration of the resolution would be postponed until the week of October 2.

Despite repeated protests from Congressman George Radanovich (R-Calif.)–the resolution’s author–and others–Reps. Burton and Lantos continued to force delays in a final Committee vote–offering debate on issues unrelated to the resolution. In the end–these dilatory tactics prevented the majority of the panel from casting their votes in favor of the resolution.

The Committee adopted an amendment–introduced by Congressman Thomas Tancredo (R-Colo.)–indicating that the "modern day Republic of Turkey did not conduct the Armenian Genocide–which was perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire." The Chairman ruled out of order an amendment by Rep. Lantos to strike any mention of the Armenian Genocide and substitute general language on "man’s inhumanity to man."

In addition to Congressman Radanovich–other members speaking in support of the resolution included Ranking Committee Democrat Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.)–and International Operations Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ)–and Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)–Steve Rothman (D-NJ)–Ed Royce (R-Calif.)–Gary Ackerman (D-NY)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Robert Menendez (D-NJ)–Tom Campbell (R-Calif.)–Howard Berman (D-Calif.)–and Mark Sanford (R-SC). Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)– indicated his support for Congressman Radanovich’s efforts and voiced opposition to the Lantos amendment because it would have eliminated any reference to the Armenian Genocide.

Joining Reps. Lantos and Burton in opposing the measure were Reps. Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.)–Cass Ballenger (R-NC)–Jim Davis (D-Fla.)–Earl Pomeroy (D-Fla.)–Kevin Brady (R-Texas)–Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.)–and Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). Commenting on various amendmen’s without taking a firm stand either for or against the resolution were Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) discussed her record on human rights issues–including her support for the California public school curriculum on the Holocaust–slavery in the United States–and abuses against native Americans. In her remarks–she did not–however–clearly indicate either support or opposition to the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

Thursday’s mark-up was the third Congressional venue in as many weeks in which the Armenian Genocide Resolution has been considered. The first–held on September 14th–was a four and half hour hearing held by the International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human rights. The second was a September 21 mark-up–at which the Subcommittee approved the resolution and sent it on to the full Committee.

In an effort to accommodate the concerns raised by several of his House colleagues and to build broader bipartisan support for the measure–Congressman Radanovich had revised the text of the resolution and reintroduced it as H.Res.596. This measure affirms the United States record on the Armenian Genocide and 1. Calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights–ethnic cleansing–and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide–and 2. Urges the President to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide as genocide in the President’s annual April 24 address.

The Armenian Genocide Resolution is actively supported by a coalition of Armenian American organizations including the Apostolic Exarchate for Armenian Catholics; Armenian Assembly of America; Armenian Bar Association; Armenian Evangelical World Council; Armenian General Benevolent Union; Armenian Missionary Association of America; Armenian National Committee of America; Armenian Relief Society of North America; Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – East; Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – West; Knights of Vartan; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – East; Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America – West.

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