Full U.S. House Set to Vote Next Week on Armenia Democracy Aid Amendment
WASHINGTON—Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA) took to the U.S. House floor Thursday to make the case for an amendment – backed by fellow Caucus leaders Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) – allocating an additional $40 million in democracy aid to Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We thank Congresswoman Speier for her principled leadership in seeking $40 million in additional funding to help strengthen Armenia’s remarkable political transition,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to the adoption of her amendment and to this new funding contributing meaningfully to the continued development of Armenia’s democratic and civil society institutions, and – ultimately – to broadening and deepening the U.S.-Armenia strategic partnership.”
Rep. Speier spoke passionately about Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution” during House consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 Foreign Aid Bill, noting that “it is very important at this point in time that we do everything in our power to support this new democracy.” Citing an earlier U.S. commitment of $60 million to assist Armenia’s democratic transformation, Rep. Speier argued more is needed. “Armenia has a rare and potentially fleeting window of opportunity to consolidate and build upon its democratic gains. […] Armenia has earned a clear signal that the United States supports its democratic transformation and resources will be brought to them to carry out that transformation.”
House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) concurred, stating that “the progress made in Armenia’s transition to democracy and the Velvet Revolution is a refreshing development at a time when so many other countries are headed in the opposite direction.” Chairwoman Lowey continued “I’m prepared to work to provide the necessary resources to encourage continued progress in Armenia.”
Ranking Republican of the Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) opposed the measure, noting: “the funding directed in this amendment is a significant increase above current levels. It could result in funds being cut from important partners in Europe facing Russian aggression.”
The House will likely vote on Rep. Speier’s amendment next week as they continue consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 foreign aid bill as part of a larger spending measure, H.R.2740.
In March, the ANCA worked closely with Congressional Armenian Caucus leadership in support of a Congressional letter, supported by over 35 Members of Congress, to the House Appropriations Committee leadership outlining a range of U.S. foreign assistance priorities, including aid to the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.
During testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the ANCA stressed that “in the aftermath of Armenia’s constitutional, political transition and recent free and fair elections, we want to share our special thanks with the Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in fostering the bilateral friendship of our two nations, to voice our appreciation for the steady progress of Armenia’s aid-to-trade transition, and to seek your continued support for strengthening Armenia’s independence, securing a durable and democratic peace for Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), and sustaining Armenia as a regional safe haven for at-risk refugees.”