Former U.S. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont passes at 80

image

(Former Sen. Jim Jeffords announced in 2005 that he would not seek a fourth term. | Getty)

September 2, 2014

By Taniel Koushakjian

AAANews Blog

On August 18th, the political world was saddened by the death of former U.S. Senator James Jeffords of Vermont. His death was widely noted as he represented a principled voice in United States national politics for over 30 years before retiring in 2007 because of health problems.  Those familiar with modern American politics recall when in 2001 the Senator left the Republican Party to become an Independent, effectively handing control of the Senate to Democrats in the first year of President George W. Bush’s administration.  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who declined the opportunity to run against Senator Jeffords but later succeeded him after his retirement stated, “Jim was one of the most popular elected officials in the modern history of the state – serving at the local, state and federal levels.  Vermonters admired him because of his low-key and down-to-earth qualities, and because of his obvious and strong love of the state and the Vermont way of life.  He was an effective champion of education, disability rights, the environment and the arts – and millions of Americans have benefited from his efforts.“ 

For Americans of Armenian descent, however, Jeffords was also a part of a different political history. In the 101st Congress, Senator Jeffords was an original cosponsor of S.J.Res. 212, a bill marking the 75th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide reaffirming the U.S. record.  In 1990, S.J. Res. 212 made it to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Introduced by Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), the bill garnered 54 cosponsors. From February 20-27, 1990 a lengthy debate and two votes to invoke cloture on Senator Dole’s motion to proceed took place. During that week, national and international media such as ABC News, CSPAN, and the Associated Press were covering the bill’s prospects while openly discussing the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Even though he did not have a large Armenian constituency in Vermont, Senator Jeffords supported the resolution and opposed efforts to deny the United States’ own history to help save the survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) opposed the bill with a filibuster and ultimately blocked passage of this important human rights issue. But, the entire Armenian American community and their friends took note of Senator Jeffords’ help and willingness to stand up for what was right.  Armenian Americans remember his legacy and mourn his passing. 

After Jeffords became an Independent in 2001, he also signed consecutive letters to President George W. Bush calling on him to officially acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. 

For more on the life of Senator James Jeffords please click here to read an excellent profile published by the Associated Press shortly after his death.

The Assembly Agenda – October 15, 2013

Last time we brought you the Assembly Agenda the U.S. government was on the verge of a shutdown with no solution to keep the government funded in sight between the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republicans. Today is day 14 of the shutdown and, as of this morning, we are no better off now than two weeks ago. 

The latest talk on Capitol Hill is that House leaders have agreed to drop certain ObamaCare provisions in a proposal that would reopen the government though January 15 and lift the debt-ceiling through February 7.

Should a stop-gap spending deal be approved, for Armenia, it will mean that the spending for FY14 will continue at FY13 levels until a larger budget deal is reached. This would translate into a higher allocation for Armenia and Artsakh. When a FY2014 budget agreement is finalized, overall foreign aid is expected to be lower than last year, as President Obama and Congress have called for across the board reductions in U.S. foreign aid.

While the U.S. government is partially shutdown, a debt default looms and budget negotiations take shape the Armenian Assembly will continue working with Congressional leaders to ensure the best possible outcome for Armenia and Artsakh.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

WEDNESDAY, October 16 – The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will host a discussion entitled “Comparing and Contrasting the Protest Movements of Brazil, Egypt and Turkey." 

POSTPONED – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled "A Pivotal Moment for the Eastern Partnership: Outlook for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan” has been postponed until further notice. 

Have a question about Congress or Armenian Issues? Have a good tip? Email us at info@aaainc.org and fill us in on what’s going on in your neighborhood!

In addition to following the AAA Blog, please follow us on Twitter @ARAMAC_DC for breaking news on Armenian issues straight from our nation’s capital.