WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released the Chairman’s mark of the 12 senate appropriations bills. The nearly $1.7 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Appropriations package includes $653 billion in non-defense discretionary spending, an over 10 percent increase over FY2022; and $850 billion in defense discretionary spending, representing a nearly 9 percent increase over FY2022 and which is consistent with the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the House of Representatives.
The bills, which were drafted without a bipartisan agreement on topline funding levels, amount to a wish list of $1.67 trillion in discretionary spending for FY2023, which begins Oct. 1st.
Included in the Bill was reaffirmation of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and both recommended demining assistance to Artsakh and humanitarian aid for Armenians displaced as a result of the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
Last month, Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), David Valadao (R-CA), and Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) announced the inclusion of an unprecedented $60 million in economic assistance for Armenia and $2 million for demining activities in Artsakh in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill for FY2023 that passed the full committee. The House vote came on the heels of a bipartisan letter supported by 64 members of Congress that was sent to House Appropriators this past April, requesting the Subcommittee include substantial aid for Armenia and Artsakh. The House Bill also included language on Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, a 1997 law that prohibits U.S. military assistance to Azerbaijan.
The Senate Appropriations Committee remains concerned with the protracted conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and now directs the Secretary of State to consult with the Committees on Appropriations prior to obligating assistance made available under Title IV of the Act for Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Committee Report stated that “up to $2,000,000 for humanitarian demining and unexploded ordnance [UXO] clearance activities in areas affected by fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, subject to prior consultation with the Committees on Appropriations” as well as “humanitarian assistance” for those displaced “by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Funds appropriated under Title III of the Act should be made available for “humanitarian assistance” for persons in Armenia and Azerbaijan who have been “displaced by the conflict in Nagorno- Karabakh.”
“This funding addresses the urgent humanitarian needs in Artsakh and Armenia which are directly linked to the deadly 2020 invasion by Azerbaijan,” stated Armenian Council of America’s Chair Mr. Sevak Khatchadorian. “While the Armenian Council hopes for a swift end to this crisis, the fact remains that as long as Azerbaijan continues to station troops in Armenian territory while falsely declaring ownership of the region, illegally holding ethnic Armenians as prisoners of war in direct violation of international human rights law, and face no consequence, no one should expect to see any kind of peaceful resolution.”
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.