WASHINGTON–Speaker of the House-elect Robert Livingston made surprise announcement Saturday–tendering his resignation from the leadership post and eventually the House of Representatives. The Louisiana Republican is notorious for his campaign to repeal Section 907–the restriction on US aid to Azerbaijan–as well as defeat the Armenian Genocide Commemoration and efforts to pursue self-determination for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Livingston’s unexpected resignation this weekend opens the door to a more balanced and constructive debate in Congress over how to advance U.S. interests and American values in the Caucasus–according to a statement issued Monday by the Armenian American Democratic Leadership Council.
Earlier this year–Livingston–in his capacity as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee–spearheaded unsuccessful efforts to repeal the restriction on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan–commonly known as Section 907. The restriction–adopted by Congress in 1992–restricts assistance to the government of Azerbaijan until it has lifted its blockades against Armenia and Karabakh.
This summer–Livingston secured passage of an anti-Section 907 amendment in his Appropriations panel–which–despite strong Republican backing–was overturned in a dramatic September 17 vote on the House floor. Sixty percent of Republicans voted against Section 907–while 74 percent of Democrats stood with the Armenian American community. The influential Capitol Hill publication Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor reported on November 23 that a Livingston speakership would have paved the way for the repeal of Section 907.
AADLC was established in 1996 to work with the Democratic National Committee to foster support among Armenian Americans for the Democratic Party and Democratic office holders–promote the election of Armenian American Democrats–and encourage participation by Armenian American Democrats at all levels of the public policy process.