April 23, 2013 - 11:53 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) were joined by over twenty of their colleagues in calling on leading House foreign aid appropriators to increase aid to Armenia, expand assistance for Nagorno Karabakh, target allocations for Javakhk, and support refugee resettlement funding for displaced Christian Armenian populations in the Middle East, as they advance the Fiscal Year 2014 foreign aid bill, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"All friends of Armenia join in expressing our appreciation to each and every legislator supporting this initiative to advance our interests and values in a vitally important region of the world," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "We look forward to working in partnership with these friends, and others, as we continue to support Armenia's growth, Artsakh's security, Javakhk's development, and the welfare of at-risk Armenians and other Christians in the Middle East."
In a letter sent to the leadership of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Democrat Nita Lowey (D-NY), a bipartisan group of legislators made the case for supporting the U.S.-Armenia strategic relationship through economic development and security assistance. Their key requests were as follows:
- At least $5 million in U.S. humanitarian and developmental aid to Nagorno Karabakh.
- At least 10% of U.S. assistance to Georgia to be earmarked for job creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of that country.
- At least $50 million in U.S. economic aid to Armenia.
- 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 Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
- Language calling for the participation of Nagorno Karabakh leaders in the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations
Joining Congressmen Pallone and Grimm as signatories were Representatives: Bruce Braley (D-IA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA).
The letter comes just weeks after President Obama released his FY 2014 budget which included a 38% cut in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) economic aid to Armenia, a proposal that, if approved by Congress, would reduce U.S. assistance to Armenia to its lowest level since the 1988 earthquake.
The President’s proposal of $24,719,000 in Economic Support Funds for Armenia was dramatically less than last year’s actual economic aid allocation of $40 million, and less than half the $50 million in FY14 aid requested earlier this year in an Armenian Caucus letter and ANCA Congressional testimony. The White House’s proposal did, however, maintain parity in terms of appropriated military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan, with International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance set at $600,000 and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) set at $2,700,000.