MAHWAH, NJ—Friends, supporters, and leaders of the Armenian National Committee of America came together recently in Mahwah, New Jersey to honor U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a longstanding legislative leader on Armenian issues, as he vies for re-election this November.
The ANCA, which has consistently scored Senator Menendez with an “A+” rating, formally endorsed his candidacy, and is working state-wide to ensure strong voter turnout on Election Day in support of his re-election. Senator Menendez serves as the Ranking Democrat on the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a key panel with vital “advise and consent” powers over presidential appointees and international treaties.
The event was graciously hosted at the home of James and Maral Sahagian. James Sahagian is a longtime community activist and currently serves as the Chair of the ANCA New Jersey Chapter. The event was co-sponsored by distinguished attorney John Shahdanian of Old Tappan, New Jersey. John is a longtime ANCA supporter and currently serves as an elected official on the Old Tappan Board of Education. Joseph Ariyan, a prominent attorney in northern New Jersey and ardent ANCA supporter also co-sponsored the fundraiser for Senator Menendez. Joe has been a very active attorney with municipalities across the State of New Jersey and is well known for his dedication to public service. Ani Tchaghlasian, a longtime friend of Senator Menendez and a past Chair of the ANCA New Jersey Chapter, also co-sponsored the gathering for Senator Menendez.
“The ANCA is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Senator Robert Menendez,” remarked ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian at the event. “The ANCA looks forward to working with Senator Menendez on our content rich legislative agenda during the upcoming 116th Congress. Our ANCA agenda includes, but is not limited to, securing a new U.S.-Armenia Double Tax Treaty, working towards a new Millennium Challenge Compact for Armenia that will rebuild close to 100 schools across rural Armenia, and ensuring that direct U.S. aid to the Republic of Artsakh continues to be appropriated by Congress,” added Hamparian.
“Maral and I were happy to host this event for Senator Menendez – a great friend of Armenia and Artsakh throughout his career in Congress,” shared event host James Sahagian. “He has been a true advocate for justice – no matter which party has been in the White House or Senate leadership. I urge all my friends and community members to cast their vote for Senator Menendez when they go to the polls this year,” he added.
“Senator Menendez – has stood with Armenian Americans – over and over again – rallying for justice for the Armenian Genocide, self-determination for Artsakh, and stronger U.S.-Armenia ties,” said Ani Tchaghlasian. “Whether it is introducing legislation, speaking out at committee hearings or supporting local initiatives, Senator Menendez has stood by principle. We look forward to his continued service in the U.S. Senate – and to working together to advance Armenian American priorities and values.”
Senator Menendez has an outstanding, proven track-record of support on key Armenian American community concerns, beginning with his election as mayor of Union City in 1986, his time in the New Jersey state legislature from 1988 to 1992, and his 1992 election to the U.S. House of Representatives. As a member of the House International Relations Committee, then-Congressman Menendez voted in favor of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in 2000 and 2005, setting the stage for future House consideration of the measure.
Robert Menendez’s service in the House is perhaps best remembered for his leadership in maintaining the Section 907 restriction on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan. During an hour-long floor debate in 1997, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, as part of his pro-Baku drive to lift these restrictions on Azerbaijan, vilified the Armenian American community, questioning its right to participate in the American political process. In response, Congressman Menendez spoke eloquently in favor of maintaining Section 907, stood strong with the people of Artsakh in their quest for freedom, and called efforts to silence the Armenian American community’s voice in the halls of Congress “outrageous.” Chairman Livingston later resigned in disgrace and accepted millions of dollars in lobbying fees from the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan as their chief mouthpiece in Washington, DC.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Senator Menendez often took the lead in scrutinizing U.S. ambassadorial nominees to Turkey and Azerbaijan regarding their positions on the Armenian Genocide and efforts to mediate a lasting peace for the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh). And, when nominees crossed-the-line into Armenian Genocide denial or showed undue bias in favor of Azerbaijan, Senator Menendez resisted White House and Senate leadership pressure, placing a “hold” on the candidates, ultimately blocking nominee Dick Hoagland from becoming U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, and stopping a full-term appointment for Matt Bryza as U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
In 2014, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez led the Committee passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, with bipartisan support. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined all the panel’s Democrats in voting for the measure, making it the first time in 25 years that a Senate committee had reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.136) currently under Senate consideration, which Senator Menendez has spearheaded, has 16 cosponsors to date.