STAGE SET FOR VOTE ON HOUSE FLOOR
Washington, D.C. – Late last night, the House Committee on Rules adopted a key amendment by Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) during consideration of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
Rep. Pallone’s amendment, which was cosponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under Section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. (Building Partner Capacity Program) may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. This report would also include recommendations to improve human rights training and additional measures that can be adopted to prevent these types of violations.
During the April 2016 Four-Day War against Artsakh initiated by Azerbaijan, the Azeri military killed a 12-year-old boy, beheaded a soldier and mutilated an elderly Armenian couple. The Armenian government had evidence that those responsible for these atrocities had received U.S. training. Azerbaijan has an abysmal human rights record and in its latest and deadly attack against Armenia, which began on July 12, targeted civilian areas – the city of Berd and the villages of Aygepar, Chinari, and Movses – in Armenia’s Tavush Province, and also threatened to target Armenia’s nuclear power plant. Last month, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requested an assessment regarding the amount and nature of U.S. assistance provided to Azerbaijan, including if any assistance “was used for offensive purposes against Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh, or may have enabled such offensive purposes, however indirectly.”
Having been made in order by the Rules Committee, Rep. Pallone’s amendment will be considered next week during consideration of the NDAA by the full House of Representatives.
Amendments by Representative Sherman prohibiting funds from being used to transfer defense articles or services to Azerbaijan and Representative Speier restoring the long-standing policy of parity in military funding between Azerbaijan and Armenia were not made in order by the Rules Committee.
“We applaud Representatives Pallone, Sherman and Speier for their timely initiatives. The current acts of aggression by Azerbaijan, including threats to target Armenia’s nuclear power plant, follow a longstanding pattern of hostility against the Armenian people. Given this latest assault and deeply troubling developments, we urge all Members of Congress to condemn Azerbaijan’s attacks, including the inexplicable targeting of kindergartens,” stated Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.