Senate Appropriates $75 Mil. for Armenia; $5 for MKR

COMMITTEE ACTION OF FOREIGN AID BILLS CLEARS PATH FOR FULL HOUSE AND SENATE CONSIDERATION AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK

WASHINGTON–DC–The Senate Appropriation Committee proposed and approved $75 million in US assistance to Armenia and $5 million in aid to Nagorno Karabagh as part of the fiscal year 2004 (FY2004) foreign aid package–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.) The Senate allocation for Armenia is $25 million more than President Bush’s request and $5 million more than the assistance package adopted by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week. Both the House and Senate approved foreign aid figures fall short of last year’s $90 million allocation to Armenia.

"We would like to thank Sen. McConnell and our friends on the Senate Appropriations Committee for increasing the aid level to Armenia above the President’s request," noted ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We remain troubled–however–by the $15 million shortfall in assistance compared to last year’s aid package and look forward to working with Senate and House appropriators to ensure that necessary programs in Armenia continue to be funded."

In addition to the $75 million hard earmark for Armenia–the Senate Appropriations Committee also voted to send $2.5 million in foreign military financing and $900,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET). The reduction in US assistance to Armenia is part of an overall decrease in aid to former Soviet States–from $755 million to $596 million.

In a report filed as a companion to the Senate foreign aid bill–Senate appropriators expressed concern about Pres. Bush’s proposed reduction in US aid to Armenia. "The Committee appreciates the administration’s efforts to graduate specific countries from receiving United States foreign assistance–but believes the $40,500,000 reduction proposed for Armenia in fiscal year 2004 will prematurely terminate ongoing development programs."

Commenting on the proposed $5 million Nagorno Karabagh assistance package–the Senate Committee Report stipulated that the aid be used to "meet basic human needs–including drinking water programs.

The Committee expects USAID to consult with the Committee within 60 days after the enactment of this Act on plans for disbursement of these funds."

Full Senate and House consideration of the foreign aid measures is expected as early as Wednesday–July 23rd.

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