WASHINGTON–DC–A key U.S. House Appropriations panel today approved a hard earmark of $84.3 million for Armenia in its fiscal year 2003 foreign aid bill–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.) The amount is $6.7 million less than the figure appropriated in the Senate version of the bill–but $14.3 million more than the amount proposed earlier this year by President Bush.
"We appreciate the leadership of Subcommittee members Joe Knollenberg–Nita Lowey–Steve Rothman–Nancy Pelosi and our other friends on the many issues of concern to our community in the foreign aid bill," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.
"We are concerned that the earmark proposed by the panel is less than last year’s appropriation and look forward to working with our friends to educate members of the joint House-Senate conference committee about the importance of restoring the final earmark for Armenia to at least last year’s level of $90 million."
The House panel also approved continued direct aid to Nagorno Karabagh and set aside $3.75 million in military assistance to Armenia–divided between Foreign Military Financing ($3 million) and International Military Education and Training ($750,000). The military assistance level reflects a reduction from the FY2002 level of $4.3 million. The House version of the bill maintains Section 907 in its current form–encourages support for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Armenia–and endorses confidence-building measures to help resolve the conflict over Nagorno Karabagh.
The full House Appropriations Committee will next review the measure–after which it will be considered by the full House. The final House and Senate versions will be reconciled by a joint House and Senate conference committee.