WASHINGTON, DC – The Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10) State-Foreign Operations bill passed another hurdle today, with the full House Appropriations Committee approving the far-reaching measure, which includes $48 million for Armenia and an unprecedented increase in humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabagh to an annual allocation of $10 million, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Committee adopted the measure in large part as approved last week by the Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations. The bill maintains military assistance parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan, keeping foreign military financing to both countries at $3 million and International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance at $450,000 each. The report language accompanying the legislation, for the first time, also specifically references “the policy of parity in military assistance provided to Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
The resolution also strengthened language governing the President’s authority to waive Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, a provision of law that restricts aid to Azerbaijan due to its blockades and other offensive actions against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. The new language will require closer Congressional consultation prior to any future waivers of this law. It reads:
“The Committee reaffirms that Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act is still in effect, pending a settlement of the ongoing dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Committee supports the so-called “Minsk Process” that provides a forum for negotiations toward a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and encourages the Department of State to continue its efforts to reenergize the negotiating process this year. As this process moves forward, the Committee believes that all parties in the conflict must refrain from threats, incitement to the use of force, or other inflammatory rhetoric. Recognizing that the Congress gave the President broad waiver authority with respect to Section 907 in the fiscal year 2002 Appropriations Act and that this waiver has been exercised in every fiscal year since then, the Committee directs that the Department of State consult with the Committees on Appropriations before exercising this waiver for fiscal year 2010 to ensure that all conditions under the waiver provision are being fully met.”
“We would like, once again, to thank Chairwoman Lowey for her leadership and express our appreciation to Rep. Adam Schiff, Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Kirk, Representatives Steve Rothman, Jesse Jackson Jr, Betty McCollum, Barbara Lee, Steve Israel, and our many friends on the Subcommittee for constructively working to address our community’s foreign aid priorities,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We are gratified that the full Appropriations Committee panel restored military aid parity, met the Armenian Caucus request of $10 million for Nagorno Karabagh, and strengthened the waiver language for Section 907. We will seek to build on this progress on the House side by working with our friends in the Senate to bring the economic aid figure to Armenia up to the $70 million level requested by the Armenian Caucus.”
The next step for this legislation is its consideration by the full House. This version will ultimately be reconciled with the Senate’s foreign aid bill before it is sent to the President to be signed into law.