The Congressional Armenian Caucus has called on key U.S. House appropriators to prioritize Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) foreign aid policies “strengthening Armenia’s independence, promoting peace in Nagorno Karabakh, and supporting Armenia as a regional safe haven for at-risk Middle East refugees,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a bipartisan letter, addressed to Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey, the Chairman and Ranking Democrat, respectively, of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, more than two dozen U.S. Representative underscored the importance of “the U.S.-Armenia partnership, a relationship founded upon a shared commitment to faith, freedom, and democratic values.” They stressed that “U.S. assistance has empowered progress in the areas of democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, and free enterprise.”
Among the specific priorities advanced by the Caucus were:
— U.S. support for Armenia as a regional safe haven for Middle East refugees, in the form of a $40 million appropriation to support transitional programs, including short-term housing/rental assistance and social and economic integration initiatives.
— A renewed focus on aid to Artsakh, with an appropriation of at least $8 million for de-mining, rehabilitation programs (such as the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center), and water supply systems.
— A focused effort to check Azerbaijani aggression, through the appropriation of at least $20 million to support implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, the suspension of U.S. military aid to Baku, and the strengthening of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act.
— An appropriation of at least $40 million in economic aid to Armenia, and no less than $11 million in military aid, with a focus on advancing U.S.-Armenia defense cooperation goals, promoting NATO interoperability, and supporting increased Armenia’s participation in global peacekeeping operations.
“Armenia – a genocide survivor state, landlocked and illegally blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan – has stepped forward, despite its own economic hardships, as a regional safe haven for Middle East refugees,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We thank our friends in the leadership of the Armenian Caucus for seeking at least $40 million in FY18 funding to help transition thousands of at-risk families to a secure, stable life in Armenia. More broadly, we would like to express our appreciation to all the signatories for supporting increased aid to Artsakh and each of the other foreign aid priorities in their letter to Chairman Rogers and Ranking Democrat Lowey.”
Joining with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Vice-Chair, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), in signing this letter were Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Colin Peterson (D-MN), Jared Polis (D-CO), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Brad Sherman (D-CA).
On March 16th, Representatives Schiff and Pallone delivered powerful testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, echoing the priorities shared in the Congressional Armenian Caucus letter.