U.S. House Adopts Four ANCA-Backed Amendments

  • 15.07.2022
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— Demand Azerbaijan’s Release of Armenian POWs; Reports on U.S.
Military Aid to Azerbaijan; Azerbaijani War Crimes Investigation;
Restrictions on F-16 sales to Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC – Powerful Congressional, community, and coalition
advocacy contributed to today’s U.S. House passage of four Armenian
National Committee of America (ANCA)-backed amendments demanding
Baku’s release of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs), calling for
investigations into Azerbaijani war crimes, reporting on the impact of
U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, and placing restrictions on the sale of
F-16s to Turkey.

Three of the measures were adopted as part of larger groupings, or
blocs, of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA –
H.R.7900).  The fourth, placing restrictions on F-16 sales to Turkey,
passed by a vote of 244 to 179, withstanding powerful opposition from
pro-Erdogan lobbyists during final days of consideration of the measure.
 The U.S. House is expected to pass the underlying NDAA measures later
Thursday evening.

“The ANCA thanks the Congressional leaders, coalition partners, and
tens of thousands of ANCA activists from across the United States who
made today’s victories possible,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi
Hamparian. “Working together – against deeply entrenched and
powerfully vested interests – we are helping to protect Artsakh,
promote Armenia, hold Azerbaijan accountable, and stop the flow of U.S.
arms to Turkey.”

The four pro-Artsakh/Armenia amendments adopted by the U.S. House are
provided below:

AMENDMENT #121: Spearheaded by Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA),
Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), the amendment calls for a
report by the State Department and Defense Department that would detail
the use of U.S. parts in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan against
Armenia and Artsakh; Azerbaijan’s use of white phosphorous, cluster
bombs and other prohibited munitions deployed against Artsakh;
Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters
during the 2020 Artsakh war.

The amendment was adopted by voice vote as part of “en bloc 1” – a
larger grouping of amendments to (H.R.7900).

Joining Representatives Tony Cardenas, Brad Sherman, and Adam Schiff
(D-CA) as Congressional cosponsors of the bipartisan amendment include
Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline
(D-RI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin
(D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe
Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff
(D-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV),
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA).

AMENDMENT #611: Introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the amendment
expresses the sense of Congress that the government of Azerbaijan should
immediately return all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians.
  The amendment was adopted by voice vote as part of “en bloc 5” – a
larger grouping of amendments to H.R.7900.

Joining Rep. Schiff as Congressional cosponsors of the bipartisan
amendment include Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Gus Bilirakis
(R-FL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA),
Jim Costa (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim
(R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Brenda
Lawrence (D-MI), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu
(D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Frank Pallone (D-NJ),
Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI),
Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV),
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA).

AMENDMENT #337: Introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), the amendment
directs the U.S. Department of State in coordination with the U.S.
Department of Defense (DoD) to:

1) document the State Department’s consideration of all waiver
requirements of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act

2) report on whether U.S. security assistance to the government of
Azerbaijan undermines efforts toward a peaceful settlement between
Armenia and Azerbaijan

3) provide an assessment of Azerbaijan’s use of offensive force
against Armenia or violations of Armenian sovereign territory from
November 11, 2020, to the date of the enactment of this Act.

In powerful remarks on the House floor, Rep. Frank Pallone condemned the
annual U.S. presidential waiver of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid
to Azerbaijan and urged passage of the amendment.  “We don’t believe
that there is any justification for waiving [Section 907 of the FREEDOM
Support Act]  because of the constant threat that Azerbaijan poses not
only to Nagorno Karabakh but also to Armenia itself, that continues ever
since [the 2020] war.”

Rep. Pallone’s remarks can be viewed here:
https://youtu.be/VqoSwFxRSP0

The amendment was adopted as part of “en bloc 3” – a larger grouping of
amendments to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act
(H.R.7900) – by a vote of 362 to 64.

Joining Rep. Speier as congressional cosponsors of the bi-partisan
measure include Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Raja
Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI),
Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez
(D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV),
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA).

AMENDMENT #399: Led by Representatives Frank Pallone, Chris Pappas
(D-NH), and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the amendment places conditions upon
the sale or transfer of F-16s or F-16 modernization kits to Turkey.

Rep. Pallone rallied Congressional support for the amendment during the
floor debate prior to the vote. “The sale of American advanced fighter
jets to Turkey will not incentivize Erdogan to suddenly transform into a
good ally. More likely these weapons will lead to further death and
destruction in the region. For far too long the United States has
allowed Erdogan to dictate his terms and hide behind Turkey’s status
as a NATO ally. He has avoided facing real-life consequences greater
than a slap on the wrist for his flagrant violations of international
law at home and abroad and it’s time we finally say enough is enough.
This amendment will do just that and help take the leveraging power out
of Erdogan’s dangerous autocratic hands,” argued Pallone.

Former Congressional Turkey Caucus Co-Chair Pete Sessions’ (D-TX)
arguments – calling Erdogan a “reliable ally,” citing Committee
jurisdictional issues, and questioning whether Turkey really violates
Greek airspace – fell flat.

Rep. Pallone’s exchange with Rep. Sessions can be viewed at:
https://youtu.be/mseB99rNzDw

The measure was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 244 to 179.  The
Congressional voting record is available at https://anca.org/f16vote

Joining Representatives Pallone, Pappas, and Bilirakis as co-sponsors of
the bipartisan measure are Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Anna
Eshoo (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), James
Langevin (D-RI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA),
Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY),
Frank Pallone (D-NJ), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Brad
Sherman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV).

In addition to the ANCA, the following U.S. civil society organizations
are on the record opposing the sale F-16s to Turkey: American Friends of
Kurdistan, American Jewish Committee, Hellenic American Leadership
Council, In Defense of Christians, Middle East Forum, and PSEKA –
International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus.

Over the past weeks, in addition to nationwide grassroots call and
twitter campaigns, the ANCA Leo Sarkisian, Maral Melkonian Avetisyan,
and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program summer interns and
fellows joined ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan in
advocating for these pro-Artsakh/Armenia priorities in legislative
briefings for over one hundred Congressional offices, in addition to a
broader office-by-office outreach campaign.

The ANCA will continue to work with Senate Armed Services Committee
members include the adoption of these measures in their version of the
FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, set to be discussed in the
fall.

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