WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Council of America (ACA) fully supports several key amendments to H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) that would block U.S. security and military assistance to Azerbaijan, halt the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, and insist on the return of both Armenian POWs and civilians illegally held by Azerbaijan. The amendments are scheduled to be considered by the House Rules Committee as early as Tuesday, July 12.
“We are pleased to see that so many pro-America, pro-Armenia amendments have been offered by such a large bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives,” said Armenian Council of America (ACA) Chairman, Sevak Khatchadorian. “We applaud the champions of the Armenian Caucus for leading these common sense amendments and we urge Congress to join them by voting in favor of including these amendments in the FY 2023 NDAA.”
The Armenia-friendly/pro-Artsakh amendments to the FY2023 NDAA Bill are as follows:
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) submitted two amendments that seek to limit the sale of F-16s and F-16 modernization kits to Turkey in response to the Biden Administration’s increasing malleability to following through with such a sale, and prohibit the United States from selling weapons to a NATO member that has repeatedly violated the air space, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of another NATO member unless Congress receives certification that such country is no longer engaging in such activity. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) were the bipartisan co-leads and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) cosponsored the amendments.
Rep. Pappas’ proposed amendments are bolstered by a bipartisan letter addressed to President Biden dated July 8th 2022, which opposes the potential sale of next generation F-16 fighter jets and F-16 upgrade kits to Turkey. The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) along with Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Dina Titus (D-NV) asserts that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime “has repeatedly used its military power to destabilize the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, South Caucasus, and North Africa for years.” The letter, which highlights Turkish war crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated by Erdogan, cautions that “the United States must not provide any further support to Turkey’s military until tangible steps are taken to halt his destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad.” The letter goes on to warn that “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.”
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) provided two amendments to the NDAA that strengthen U.S. policy interests in the South Caucuses region. One prohibits U.S. security assistance from being transferred to the security forces or defense of the Azeri government, while the other is an amendment that would require detailed reporting and accountability for any U.S. assistance provided to Azerbaijan under the waiver provisions of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, including an “assessment of Azerbaijan’s use of offensive force against Armenia or violations of Armenian sovereign territory from November 11, 2020.” Both amendments are supported by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).
Rep. Tony Cardenas’ (D-CA) bipartisan amendment, backed by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), requests that a report on Azerbaijan’s warmongering activities in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in 2020 to be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense (in coordination with the Secretary of State).
Chairman James McGovern’s (D-MA) amendment modifies reports to Congress under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to include actions taken to address underlying causes of the sanctioned conduct, and to pursue judicial accountability in appropriate jurisdictions for sanctioned individuals or entities.
A bipartisan amendment brought by Armenian Caucus Co-Chair & Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone prohibits the U.S. Department of Defense from providing funding to Azerbaijan under the Section 333 Building Partner Capacity program. It is cosponsored by Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), and Rep. Connie Conway (R-CA).
Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) amendment requires a report within 90 days of enactment that contains an evaluation of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon (with a focus on individuals suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity), as well as the impact of the decline of wheat imports to the country due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led a bipartisan amendment which demands that Azerbaijan release all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians resulting from the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). This amendment is cosponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA).
The Armenian Council of America will continue to advocate for a sound U.S. foreign policy that advances America’s and Armenia’s best interests in the South Caucuses region and that fosters greater cooperation between the U.S., Armenia, and Artsakh.
As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering Armenian related news, analysis and resources for policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen U.S. – Armenia and U.S. – Artsakh ties, the development of programs promoting sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship.