GLENDALE–In two recent newspaper articles–Rep. James Rogan (R-Calif.) has said that he does not think H.Res 398–the Armenian Genocide resolution will pass on the House floor.
An article published Monday in Roll Call–the leading daily newspaper on Capitol Hill–said Rogan "is under no illusions that he can push the bill through the full House."
"To me–the victory is getting it out of committee and getting it to the floor for the entire House to consider," Rogan told Roll Call–adding that "If it passed on the floor–I would be surprised."
In a news report published in Friday’s edition of the Los Angeles Daily News Rogan said–"I don’t think anybody is under the expectation that it is actually going to pass the floor."
The issue of the Armenian Genocide resolution–which was dormant throughout most of the 106th Congressional session–experienced a resurgence when House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) promised the Armenian community last month that he would do everything to ensure that the bill was heard on the House floor.
Hastert was in Glendale and met with several Armenian organizational representatives at Rogan’s request–and made the announcement–which was deemed as a joint pledge by the Congressional leaders for the passage of the resolution.
The measure was approved in a voice vote last Thursday by the House Sub-committee on International Operations and Human Rights. The resolution is expected to be discussed and voted on by the entire House International Relations Committee–of which Rogan is a member–Thursday. The 106th Congress is expected to adjourn on October 6. If the Genocide Resolution does not pass until then–it would mean that the new Congress–which convenes in January–would have to reintroduce the resolution and begin the legislative process anew.
Legislative experts in Washington and Los Angeles have opined that the low expectations for the passage of this bill was apparent in late August when Hastert and Rogan made the pledge to push forward with H.Res. 398–and have questioned the prudence of such late action.
"If Rogan loses on this–he’s in big trouble with the Armenia’s," a Rogan aide was quoted by Roll Call as saying to a member of the International Relations Committee. "He’s invested a lot of time and effort into this–and he needs a win," the aide concluded.
Below is the Roll Call article in its entirety.
GOP Lobbyists Working Against Rogan On Resolution
BY JOHN BRESNAHAN–From Roll Call In a battle that pits one of the most vulnerable House GOP lawmakers against several powerful former Members turned lobbyists–Rep. James Rogan (Calif.) is attempting to push through a resolution condemning Turkey for allegedly killing hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s from 1915 to 1923.
Although Rogan emphasizes that the resolution focuses on the old Ottoman Empire and not the present republican government–Turkish officials are furious over the possibility that Congress may take a formal stance on this touchy issue–and have responded with an aggressive lobbying campaign.
Former Reps. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Gerald Solomon (R-NY)–who are being paid $700,000 each to lobby for Turkey on this and other matters for one year–are working hard against the Rogan resolution. Ex-Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY) is being paid $400,000 to whip up Democratic opposition and work on other issues for Turkey.
Some Republicans are upset at Livingston and Solomon for accepting so much money to lobby against a key legislative priority of one of the House GOP’s most endangered incumbents.
"This is ridiculous," fumed one House GOP lawmaker.
"What Livingston and Solomon are doing directly undermines [Rogan’s] ability to get re-elected. It’s a shame that two former Republican Members are doing this."
Livingston would not return calls seeking comment on the matter–but Solomon defended his contract.
Solomon called the $700,000 a "gross amount" that he will also use to pay two specialists he has hired to help his efforts. Noting that "my personal time is not inexpensive," Solomon added. "By the time you get through–$700,000 is not that great a sum."
However–for Rogan–the fight over his Armenian genocide resolution comes at a tough time in a very difficult re-election campaign.
Rogan has more than 35,000 people of Armenian descent living in his district–making it an issue whether he can push through the resolution–especially since Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) publicly told Armenian leaders during a trip to Rogan’s district that he supported bringing it to the House floor.
"If Rogan loses on this–he’s in big trouble with the Armenia’s," said an aide to one international Relations Committee member. "He’s invested a lot of time and effort into this–and he needs a win."
Nevertheless–Rogan said he isn’t looking for a political victory in pushing the resolution.
"It’s about time the Congress does this," Rogan said. "That’s all that really matters."
Turkish officials are playing hardball on the matter by privately suggesting that billions of dollars in US military weapon sales to its NATO ally – by some estimates in excess of $15 billion – could be jeopardized by the adoption of the resolution–drafted by Rogan along with Reps. David Bonior (D-Mich.) and George Radanovich (R-Calif.).
Lobbyists for defense contractors such as Bell Helicopter–Boeing–Raytheon and General Dynamic have now jumped into the fray–warning lawmakers that their districts will suffer if they lose contracts for weapon systems built in their home states.
Bell Helicopter is in a particularly touchy position. Turkey has essentially agreed to purchase 145 attack helicopters from the company–a deal worth roughly $4.5 billion.
But the talks to finalize the agreement–which could take six or eight months–just began in Ankara last week–leaving the Texas- based contractor in an uncomfortable position as it watches the House debate.
"There are a number of Texans who don’t think we should be getting into this issue at all," said one Republican member of the International Relations Committee–speaking on condition of anonymity.
But Rogan–who said he was still on friendly terms with both Solomon and Livingston–vowed to continue pressing his case for the resolution–and has received assurances from Hastert that the measure will be taken up by the full House if approved by the International Relations Committee–where it is scheduled to be marked up this week.
"It’s an important issue for the House of Representatives to debate," said Rogan. "It’s a vote of conscience. It’s the right thing to do." However–the California Republican is under no illusions that he can push the bill through the full House.
"To me–the victory is getting it out of committee and getting it to the floor for the entire House to consider," Rogan added. "If it passed on the floor–I would be surprised."
International Relations Chairman Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) said he plans to support the measure. "I’ve voted for it in the past," Gilman–referring to efforts to condemn Turkey for the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenia’s as well as the expulsion of another 500,000 from their homelands.
Those actions by the Ottoman government–which fell from power in 1923 with the establishment of a Turkish republic–have been the focus of intense controversy ever since.
Many historians and pro-Armenia commentators have labeled the treatment of Armenia’s by the Ottoman Empire genocide. The resolution calls for "appropriate training and materials" to be given to the State Department–Foreign Service and other executive branch officials regarding the alleged genocidal acts by the Ottomans.
The president would be required to issue an annual message on or about April 24–the anniversary of the 1915 roundup of 235 Armenian intellectual and religious leaders who were murdered by Ottoman Turks.
But present-day Turkish officials vehemently deny that their country was engaged in genocide against the Armenia’s. The Turks blame the deaths on disease and starvation.
Roll Call is the leading newspaper covering Congressional affairs.