The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) team was up on Capitol Hill today to welcome the over 90 newly elected members of the U.S. Senate and House, as Congress kicked off its 113th Session.
ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian and ANCA San Francisco-Bay Area Chairman Armen Carapetian were among those reaching out to old Congressional friends and welcoming new Members, as the new session was launched at noon on January 3rd.
“A new Congress gives Armenian Americans across the U.S. the opportunity to expand our ties with longtime advocates and foster new relationships with recently elected officials on the full array of our community views and values – from justice for the Armenian Genocide and self-determination for Artsakh to a stronger U.S-Armenia relationship, economic development in Javakhk and efforts to assist the beleaguered Christian Armenian community in Syria,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We welcome the Congress back to Washington – veterans and freshmen alike – and look forward to working with each legislator to help ensure a productive session on the full range of our community concerns.”
The new Congressional session also ushers in new Committee leadership in many cases, including the powerful Senate and House committees dealing with foreign affairs. President Obama’s nomination of Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a longtime supporter of Armenian issues, as Secretary of State will open the door for long-time friend Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to chair that influential committee. Sen. Dick Lugar’s (R-IN) defeat in the 2012 primary opens the door for Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to serve as Ranking Republican. On the House side, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Ed Royce (R-CA) will chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), a longstanding supporter of Armenian issues, serving as Ranking Democrat.
Among those returning to Congress was Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who marched up the steps of the Capitol today after a valiant recovery from a stroke suffered in 2012. Prior to his election to the Senate, Kirk served as Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus during his years in the U.S. House.