The U.S. House State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee has proposed a significant reduction in foreign aid spending for Fiscal Year 2014, approving a measure, earlier today, that would cut nearly 20% from both last year’s figures and the Obama Administration’s budget request, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
While specific country levels – including allocations for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – have not yet been made public, sources report that across-the-board cuts are foreseen on most accounts, and some multilateral programs being cut by up to 60%.
“With Congress considering unprecedented cuts in foreign aid spending, legislators in the House and Senate need to hear from their Armenian American constituents about the vital role that our aid programs to Armenia and Karabakh play in advancing U.S. interests in a strategic region,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “If you haven’t called your legislators, call them now. If you’ve already called, call them again. Make sure they know where you stand.”
Following up on today’s subcommittee action, the full House Appropriations Committee will review the foreign aid bill as early as next Wednesday, July 24th. A parallel process on the Senate side will begin on Tuesday, July 23rd, with the Senate State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee taking up its version of the measure.
Armenian Americans across the U.S. continue to contact Senate and House appropriators to advocate for a broad range of Armenian American concerns including:
— At least $5 million in U.S. assistance to Nagorno Karabakh
— At least $50 million in U.S. assistance to Armenia
— At least 10% of U.S. assistance to Georgia to be earmarked for job creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of that country.
— Funds for humanitarian and resettlement assistance specifically targeted to Armenian and other Christian populations as well as other minority communities affected by the recent unrest in the Middle East.
— Language strengthening Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan.
— Removal of barriers to contact and communication with representatives of the NagornoKarabakhRepublic.
— Language calling for the participation of Nagorno Karabakh leaders in the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations
ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian travelled to Armenia and Karabakh last week as part of a mission that included first-hand surveys of the benefits of U.S. assistance programs for both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. In addition to meetings with Nagorno Karabakh Deputy Prime Minister Artur Aghabekyan, Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulian, Nahapetian visited with representatives of the Halo Trust, which receives close to half of the $2 million annual U.S. assistance package to Karabakh for demining purposes. HALO Trust offered shocking statistics about the ongoing maiming of civilians, including children, due to the landmines and explosive remnants in Karabakh, noting that the injury rate is ahead of even Afghanistan on a per capita basis. The ANCA has been be advocating for the expansion of U.S. assistance to Karabakh to the $5 million level to address these concerns.