Reps. Pallone and Sweeney Lead Congressional Call for ‘Maintaining Significant Assistance’ to Armenia Karabagh

FIFTY HOUSE MEMBERS CO-SIGN LETTER TO FOREIGN AID SUBCOMMITTEE LEADERSHIP

WASHINGTON–DC–As the Senate and House Appropriations Committee leadership prepare for a conference to finalize the FY 2004 foreign aid figures–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) joined 48 of their colleagues in calling for continued high levels of US assistance to Armenia–and a $5 million earmark for Mountainous Karabagh–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"We appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Pallone and Sweeney and the hard work by their staffs to help share with Subcommittee Chairman Kolbe and Ranking Member Lowey the broad–bipartisan support in the House for Armenian American priorities in the foreign aid bill," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We also want to thank Congressman Knollenberg and all our friends on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee for their work – with the Chairman and their other colleagues – to further strengthen US-Armenia relations and help offset the devastating impact on the Armenian people of the dual Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades."

In a November 4 letter to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee leadership–the Representatives urged that language adopted by the Senate in July calling for "not less than" $75 million in assistance to Armenia be approved by the conference committee. "Maintaining significant assistance to Armenia is essential in order for its people to secure the most basic standard of living in the face of the ongoing Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades," noted the House Members. The legislators also cited the "importance of a strong US-Armenia military relationship," and requested the continuation of the $2.5 million assistance in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $900 million in International Military Education Training Assistance (IMET).

The letter went on to commend the Foreign Operations Subcommittee for adopting a $5 million allocation for Karabagh–explaining that the "funding will be earmarked for rebuilding homes–improving water supplies and healthcare–and providing income-generating opportunities for the most vulnerable groups."

Other issues included in the letter were calls for continued monitoring of the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which restricted US aid to Azerbaijan due to their ongoing blockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. The House Members praised the Subcommittee for language in support of confidence building measures to assist in the peaceful resolution of the Karabagh conflict.

Joining Representatives Pallone and Sweeney in cosigning the letter are House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier (R-CA)–House Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)–Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)–and Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ)–Joe Baca (D-CA)–Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)–Xavier Becerra (D-CA)–Howard Berman (D-CA)–Michael Bilirakis (R-FL)–Michael Capuano (D-CA)–Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)–Jerry Costello (D-IL)–Joseph Crowley (D-NY)–Cal Dooley (D-CA)–Anna Eshoo (D-CA)–Mike Ferguson (R-NJ)–Bob Filner (D-CA)–Mark Foley (R-FL)–Barney Frank (D-MA)–Scott Garrett (R-NJ)–Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)–Michael Honda (D-CA)–Steve Israel (D-NY)–Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH)–Sue Kelley (R-NY)–Dale Kildee (D-MI)–Jerry Kleczka (D-WI)–James Langevin (D-RI)–John Larson (D-CT)–Sander Levin (D-MI)–Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)–Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)–Edward Markey (D-MA)–Karen McCarthy (D-MO)–Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)–James McGovern (D-MA)–Michael McNulty (D-NY)–Grace Napolitano (D-CA)–Devin Nunes (R-CA)–George Radanovich (R-CA)–Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–Chris Shays (R-CT)–James Saxton (R-NJ)–Brad Sherman (D-CA)–Mark Souder (R-IN)–Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)–and Fred Upton (R-MI). Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg–who serves on the Foreign Operations Panel–has long been its most effective voice in support of Armenian-American priorities in the foreign aid process.

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