Key Members of Congress Express Serious Concerns Over Section 907 Waiver
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Washington, D.C. - Key members of Congress expressed serious concerns about the waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, during hearings with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken regarding the State Department budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, this week, reported the Assembly. During today's U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department's budget, Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pressed Secretary Blinken about the Administration's decision to waive Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which has been law since 1992 and restricts assistance to Azerbaijan "until it takes demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh." Chairman Menendez stated he was "disappointed" that the Administration renewed the 907 waiver renewal "despite Azerbaijan's attack on Nagorno-Karabakh." After receiving the waiver, Chairman Menendez said Azerbaijan began "interfering with the actual territorial sovereignty of Armenia" and has "not released Armenian prisoners of war, which is in violation of international law." "When we [the Administration] waived it, we gave them the green light," said Chairman Menendez. In response, Secretary Blinken said the Administration will "continue taking a look at this." "I've been working actively on this, particularly getting the return of the prisoners, and getting engaged in an actual process discussion and negotiation over an actual resolution," said Secretary Blinken. "It's my hope we can get a little bit of traction there, but I think we'll have to continue looking and relooking at this in the future."
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Yesterday, senior House Foreign Affairs Committee Member, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA),reiterated the critical need to reverse the Section 907 waiver and stop U.S. military assistance to Azerbaijan during the State Department's Foreign Policy Strategy and budget request hearing. He stated: "In 2019 Congress recognized the Armenian Genocide, I want to commend you and the Administration for doing the same in April of this year, however the Administration has issued a Section 907 waiver to allow for sale of weapons to Azerbaijan, and I hope you would reconsider that in light of Azerbaijan's violations of the territorial integrity, not of Nagorno-Karabakh, although that is important, but of Armenia itself and [Azerbaijan's] unprovoked aggression."
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), also voiced her concerns about the waiver. During the Department of State and Related Programs budget request hearing, Rep. Lee emphasized that she would follow up with a written question. She stated: "[Regarding] your recent decision to extend the waiver to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, I would appreciate the State Department's prompt response." "Given Azerbaijan's unprovoked war last Fall, the use of Syrian mercenaries, the unjust holding of prisoners of war, the deliberate destruction of Armenian religious and cultural heritage sites, as well as the repeated border incursions in violation of Armenia’s sovereignty, we commend Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez, along with Chairwoman Lee and Congressman Sherman for raising these concerns, and urge the Administration to rescind the waiver," stated 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.