WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives adopted, on Tuesday, amendments by Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and TJ Cox (D-CA) to H.R. 2740 – the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Legislative Branch, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2020 – to include $40 million to Armenia for democracy assistance and $1.5 million to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) for mine clearance efforts, as well as support for regional rehabilitation services, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). Rep. Speier’s amendment passed 268 to 152 and Rep. Cox’s amendment passed as part of an en bloc amendment by a vote of 231 to 187.
“The images of Armenia’s Velvet Revolution bring a smile to my face every time I think of it… The amazing part of all of this is that this democracy occurred with not one drop of blood being shed. So it is very important at this point in time that we do everything in our power to support this new democracy. Since the revolution, Armenia has held fair and free democratic elections that swept Nikol Pashinyan to power. Recently, his government signed an agreement with the United States providing up to $60 million over two to three years to promote economic growth and good governance in Armenia,” said Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier while introducing the amendment on the House floor.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) stated: “The progress made in Armenia’s transition to democracy and the Velvet Revolution is a refreshing development at a time when so many other countries are headed in the opposite direction.” She added: “I am prepared to work to provide the necessary resources to encourage continued progress in Armenia.”
Earlier this year, Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and called for additional U.S. assistance towards Armenia’s democratic and economic development as well as funding for Artsakh. During his testimony, he urged Subcommittee Chairwoman Lowey to “reward people who have made progress towards democracy.”
Rep. TJ Cox’s (D-CA) amendment to ensure “funding for de-mining projects in Nagorno-Karabakh, and support for regional rehabilitation services for infants, children, and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities” was included as part of an en bloc amendment offered by Chairwoman Lowey.
“Children and families in Nagorno Karabakh shouldn’t have to live under the constant threat of a crippling injury or death from exploding mines,” Rep. Cox said to the Armenian Assembly. “My amendment will ensure continued funding for de-mining and rehabilitation projects in Nagorno Karabakh. I’m committed to working to restore communities in Nagorno Karabakh and ensure the region is landmine free.”
During consideration of H.R. 2740, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) discussed the need for the U.S. to take a more engaged role to help resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, strengthen the cease-fire, and remove barriers to dialogue. Rep. Pallone also thanked Chairwoman Lowey for being a “champion of the region,” and for supporting Armenia and protecting Artsakh. Earlier this year, Rep. Pallone introduced H.Res.190, a resolution supporting United States-Artsakh relations, which calls for free and open communication, as well as travel between the two nations at all levels of civil society and government.
With passage in the House, the next step in the legislative process is consideration by the Senate before both chambers can reconcile the bill.