Armenian American voters in California’s 30th Congressional District face a choice between two powerful and pro-active advocates for the full range of Armenian issues, Howard Berman, the Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Brad Sherman, a senior Democratic member on this influential panel. The ANCA values and profoundly appreciates the contributions of both of these legislators, and regrets that California’s re-districting process has put our community in a situation in which only one of these two longstanding friends will be returning to the U.S. House next January. Both Reps. Sherman and Berman have A+ ratings from the ANCA.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA-30) – ANCA Rating: A+
In addition to being a lead cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide (H.Res.304) and Return of Churches (H.Res.306) resolutions and cosigning letters to increase aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Congressman Berman spearheaded the successful effort, last year, to pass the Return of Churches resolution as an amendment to the State Department Authorization Bill in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The amendment calling on Turkey to return historical Christian church properties and respect religious freedom was overwhelmingly adopted by a vote of 43 to 1, which gave it the momentum to then pass on the full House floor. Noting Azerbaijan’s refusal to pull back its snipers, Rep. Berman also successfully blocked the proposed sale of military and surveillance equipment to Azerbaijan. In the aftermath of the Azerbaijani release of convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov, Rep. Berman urged Secretary Clinton to ban Azerbaijan from all NATO Partnership for Peace events until his re-incarceration, writing, “Aliyev’s action makes a mockery of justice and shows contempt for NATO and its members.” In 2010, Rep. Berman, as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was the key to this panel’s adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, over opposition from Turkey and the Obama Administration.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA-30) – ANCA Rating: A+
In addition to being a lead cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide (H.Res.304) and Return of Churches (H.Res.306) resolutions and cosigning letters to increase U.S. aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Congressman Sherman cosponsored a bill that would block a proposed $111 million sale of U.S. arms to Turkey over Ankara’s increasingly belligerent actions against Armenia, Cyprus, Israel, and its own Kurdish population. Rep. Sherman was also instrumental in gaining assurances from the Export Import Bank that the sale of satellite equipment to Azerbaijan would not be used for offensive or military purposes and urged the Administration to support more aid to the Armenian-populated region of Javakhk in Georgia. He forcefully condemned Azerbaijan’s release of axe-murderer Ramil Safarov, and, in welcoming the planned opening of the airport in Nagorno Karabakh, warned Azerbaijan not to carry through with their threats to shoot down civilian aircraft. In the late 1990s, Rep. Sherman helped launch the U.S. aid program to Nagorno Karabakh.