VAN NUYS–Members of the East San Fernando Valley ANC and ANC-WR on August 21, met with Congressman Howard Berman (D-28). The meeting was held to discuss issues of concern to the local Armenian American community in the San Fernando Valley. Those in attendance included ESFV member Teresa Petrosyan, ANC-WR Board Member Avo Ovayan, ANC-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian, Congressman Howard Berman and District Director Bob Blumenfeld.
The Congressman, who serves as the second highest ranking official on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, discussed H. Res. 106 (the Armenian Genocide Resolution) and mentioned the strong support that the resolution currently enjoys. At the present time, H. Res. 106 has secured broad bipartisan support, with a total of over 226 cosponsors. The ESFV ANC expressed its commitment of expanding its strong working relationship with Congressman Berman and other area officials, with plans for a Town Hall meeting with elected officials planned from the San Fernando Valley slated for October 2007.
“This was a great opportunity to discuss the work of the ANC’s grassroots efforts with the Congressman,” stated ESFV ANC member Petrosyan. ANC-WR Board Member Avo Ovayan added, “Armenian American voters in California’s 28th Congressional District have a good friend in Congressman Berman.”
The ESFV ANC plans to host a Town Hall Meeting in the coming months with Congressman Berman. This event will allow community activists and constituents to hear from the Congressman on important local, regional and national matters relating to the 28th Congressional District.
On March 20, Congressman Berman issued a Dear Colleague letter to the entire United States Congress urging all Members to support the Armenian Genocide Resolution. In the letter, Berman referenced the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), which has concluded that “the historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence. It is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russian and perhaps most importantly, of Turkey’s World War I allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as by the records of the Ottoman Courts-Martial of 1918-1920, and by decades of scholarship.”
In the letter, Congressman Berman’stated that, “At some point, every nation must come to terms with its own history; And it is now time for Turkey to accept the reality of the Armenian Genocide. This will undoubtedly be a difficult and painful process for the Turkish people, but it will ultimately strengthen Turkish democracy and put the important US-Turkey relationship on sounder footing.”
“Congressman Berman’s strong support for H. Res. 106 is an example of strong moral leadership ‘s especially given his senior position on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,” stated ANC-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian. “We look forward to working with the Congressman well into the future,” he added.
Congressman Berman was first elected to Congress in 1982. He is a graduate of UCLA (1962) and UCLA Law School (1965) and served as a VISTA volunteer upon graduation. From 1967 to 1973, he practiced law in Los Angeles, specializing in labor relations. In 1973, Berman was elected to the California State Assembly and was the youngest-ever Assembly Majority leader and served as Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Policy Research Management Committee of the Assembly.
"There are few House members who have made such an imprint on legislation in so many areas as Howard Berman," says The Almanac of American Politics. The Almanac goes on to call Berman "one of the most aggressive and creative members of the House and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics." Berman is particularly well-known for his ability to form bipartisan coalitions. Together with Republican Henry Hyde, Berman wrote a law authorizing embargoes on nations that support terrorism. With Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, he wrote amendmen’s to the False Claims Act.
In addition to being a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Berman is the Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He has gained increasing influence on such issues as foreign aid, the Middle East peace process, nonproliferation, antiterrorism, human rights, technology policy, trade legislation, copyright legislation, and immigration reform.
Congressman Berman is married to Janis Gail Berman and they have two daughters, Brinley and Lindsey.