Senior Republican Serves on House Appropriations Committee; Leads Congressional Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East
PASADENA– Friends and supporters of the Armenian National Committee of America gathered in Pasadena, California on May 26 to offer their support for a champion of Armenian Causes in the U.S. House of Representatives – Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). The Congressman, who serves on the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, has been a stalwart ally in the ANCA’s efforts to direct U.S. refugee assistance to Armenians fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq.
The event honoring Congressman Fortenberry was hosted at the home of ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian and his wife, Mireille, and was chaired by longtime ANCA supporters Frank and Hoori Melkonian. The gathering drew a diverse and bi-partisan crowd, eager to learn more about Congressman Fortenberry’s leading role in Congress with respect to safeguarding the at-risk Christian communities in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere across the Middle East.
“Special thanks to Frank and Hoori Melkonian for chairing our evening with Representative Fortenberry, and our heartfelt appreciation to all those who joined in offering a warm Armenian welcome to Southern California for our great friend from Nebraska,” remarked ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “No one in Congress is doing more to protest the atrocities against Christians across the Middle East, or to offer America’s protection to those being persecuted for no reason other than their faith.” Hamparian added: “Our community’s support for Congressman Fortenberry’s leadership in defense of Christians across the greater Middle East reflects the geographic breadth of our ANCA outreach, the broad scope of our policy priorities, and the fundamentally bipartisan nature of our Capitol Hill advocacy.”
Congressman Fortenberry – the Co-Chairman of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus – has emerged as a leading voice in Congress in protecting vulnerable Christians, Yezidis, and other faith-based populations in the Middle East. In March of 2015, Congressman Fortenberry, working with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who is of Armenian and Assyrian heritage, secured the unanimous adoption of a bipartisan measure, H.Con.Res.75, designating ISIS atrocities as genocide. This resolution, along with a parallel effort in the Senate, effectively prevented the Obama Administration from moving forward with its plans to issue a genocide designation properly citing Yezidis but, without justification, excluding any mention of Christians. Three days after the passage of H.Con.Res.75, then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned ISIS for committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and Shia Muslim minorities.
Congressman Fortenberry was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 to serve Nebraska’s First Congressional District. Currently serving on the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, he previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he placed particular focus on human rights concerns. The Congressman resides in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife, Celeste, and their five daughters.