Washington, D.C. - Tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an Omnibus Appropriations Bill wrapping up Fiscal Year 2022 spending that calls for "not less than" $45 million for Armenia and $2 million for humanitarian demining in Artsakh, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The measure also requires "that prior to any initial obligation of funds appropriated under title IV of the Act for assistance for Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the proposed uses of such funds." The inclusion of aid comes on the heels of a letter spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) along with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), as well as another letter by Caucus Members Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jim Costa (D-CA), who urged the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to include an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid to Artsakh. The bill itself includes language on Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and also requires a report on the likelihood of military action against Artsakh "not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act." There has been widespread reporting of the Aliyev regime's continued violations of the November 2020 ceasefire terms, including the killing of Armenians in cross-border shootings. This week alone, Azeri forces blocked repair of damaged main gas supply to Nagorno Karabakh amid reports that they cut the pipeline themselves, under cover of war in Ukraine. Just yesterday, an Armenian soldier was killed, and another wounded, in a ceasefire violation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan exclave. In addition, Artsakh officials have reported today that Azerbaijan's army is "actively" using high-caliber mortars and automatic weapons to target Artsakh's rural communities forcing farmers to suspend "all types of agricultural work." Moreover, for the last two days and counting, the people of Artsakh have been deprived of a vital gas supply pipeline while the Azeri military refuses access to determine the cause or fix the damage. Meanwhile, Artsakh recently sent over 14 tons of humanitarian aid to help aid the Ukrainian people. Last week, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a report regarding Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) which found that, according to Chairman Menendez, "the State Department failed to comply with reporting requirements for reviewing U.S. assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan." Further, according to Chairman Menendez, the GAO report "found that over several years, the Department of State and Department of Defense failed to meet statutory reporting requirements to Congress on the impact of U.S. assistance on the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan." Other key findings from the report included that the State's reporting to Congress from FY2014-FY2021 did not address required elements, including the impact on proposed assistance on the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan; State’s Memorandums of Justification contained limited or no details regarding quantity of assistance, status of the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the impact of U.S. assistance on the military balance, or the impact of the assistance on peace negotiations; State’s 2021 guidance did not provide detailed instructions to agencies about reporting requirements to Congress; and that State and DoD did not document their consideration of waiver requirements from FY2014-FY2020, including how they determined assistance would not be used for offensive purposes against Armenia. "As the world bears witness to the ongoing devastation in Ukraine, we urge continued vigilance to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its ongoing attacks against the Armenian people," said Assembly Congressional Relations Director Mariam Khaloyan.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.