Financial services committee votes 24 to 20 against amendment offered by Rep. Joe Crowley. WASHINGTON–A Congressional panel today voted down an amendment offered by Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) which would have blocked US taxpayer funding for any proposed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline routes that avoid Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The amendment to the Export-Import Bank reauthorization bill would have specifically prohibited the Export Import Bank from guaranteeing–insuring–or extending credit for the planning–development–construction–or maintenance of a Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that is routed around Armenia.
The Committee–at the urging of its chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) and long-time opponent of Armenian American issues Doug Bereuter (R-Neb.)–rejected the Crowley Amendment. In his commen’s–Rep. Bereuter noted that the Crowley Amendment was opposed by the State Department–Export Import Bank–US Chamber of Commerce–American Jewish Committee–and B’nai B’rith International. Also speaking against the measure was Armenian Caucus member Ken Bentsen (D-Texas). In a sharp departure from his traditional friendship with Armenian Americans–Rep. Gary Ackerman–also a Caucus member–opposed the Crowley Amendment. Joining Rep. Crowley in speaking in favor of the amendment were Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.)–Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)–and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
"We thank Representative Crowley and express our appreciation to Reps. Cantor–Lee–and Maloney for their leadership on this amendment and for their efforts to educate their colleagues about the potential misuse of US taxpayer funds to finance commercially questionable Caspian energy pipeline routes that would–at the insistence of Azerbaijan–exclude Armenia," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We regret that the Committee voted down the Crowley Amendment and were particularly troubled that several of our traditional friends – including Congressmen Ackerman and Bentsen – chose not to support this important measure. As the vote total shows–had they chosen to support this amendment they could have provided the margin of victory for our effort."
Congressman Crowley’s initiative came in response to repeated efforts in recent years by Azerbaijan to pressure governmen’s–financial institutions–and energy firms involved in Caspian energy projects to reject more cost-effective pipeline routes through Armenia in favor of routes that exclude Armenia.
Earlier this year–Congressman Crowley joined with Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and Frank Pallone–and Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) in introducing legislation–H.Con.Res.162–expressing the growing Congressional opposition to the use of American tax dollars to fund Caspian energy projects that exclude Armenia. In addition to this bill the four legislators spearheaded a Congressional letter sharing their concerns with President Bush.
These actions came in the wake of the release earlier this year of the recommendations of the National Energy Policy Development (NEPD) group–which announced its support for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline–but failed to identify Armenia as the most cost-effective–commercially viable–and strategically beneficial route.