Saturday, July 7, 2007

Majority of House members support Armenian Genocide resolution

First published in the Armenian Reporter on June 30, 2007

A majority in the House backs Armenian Genocide resolution
An unprecedented level of support
by Emil Sanamyan

WASHINGTON – As of June 29, 219 of 435 members of the House of Representatives support House Resolution 106, which affirms the U.S. record on the Armenian Genocide, according to the official record maintained by the Library of Congress. A simple majority of the members of the House is 218.

More than 20 co-sponsors signed on to the resolution in the last two weeks, bringing the resolution this unprecedented level of support.

The resolution was introduced in late January by Representatives Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), George Radanovich (R.-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.), and Joe Knollenberg
(R.-Mich.). It was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but the committee’s chair, Rep. Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.) has yet to bring it up for committee consideration.

Congressional supporters and Armenian-American organizations, including the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Armenian Assembly, and the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee, have been working to gain supporters for the resolution. If a majority of members sign onto the bill, supporters believe, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer may bring the resolution directly to the House floor, where it seems assured of passage.

Some of the Armenian community’s ardent supporters in the House have been stepping up efforts in recent weeks. Among the many examples, Reps. Schiff, Radanovich, Pallone, and Knollenberg have been enlisting additional co-sponsors among their colleagues. Reps. Donald M. Payne (D.-N.J.) and Frank R. Wolf (R.-Va.) sent around a “Dear Colleague” letter urging members to sign on.

USAPAC has been working closely with Rep. Tim Walz (D.-Minn.), vice-president of the Freshman Class in the House, who has been recruiting fellow freshmen as cosponsors.

“I am thrilled that the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide reached a critical mass of 218 co-sponsors today,” Mr. Walz said. “As someone who taught genocide studies, I know that we must acknowledge genocide whenever and wherever it
happens, regardless of international politics. We must work to curtail future genocides by not only addressing the cultural, economic, and religious factors that
often contribute to these atrocities, but also by learning from past genocides. To learn from our past requires at a bare minimum that we acknowledge the past, which is what this long overdue resolution will do in the case of the Armenian genocide.”

The ANCA reported on June 28 that thousands of people participated in a call-in campaign it organized in a push this week to reach the majority.

When the number of co-sponsors tipped into a majority, Rep. Schiff said: “In gaining 218 cosponsors, we have demonstrated that a majority of the House strongly supports recognizing the facts of the Armenian Genocide. While there are still survivors left, we feel a great sense of urgency in calling attention to the attempted murder of an entire people. Our failure to acknowledge these dark chapters of history prevents us from taking more effective action against ongoing genocides, like Darfur.”

Earlier, at the 200 co-sponsors mark, Rep. Schiff had also called recognition of the Genocide “a moral imperative.

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