During the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department's Budget, Operations, and Policy Priorities with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, May 23, Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-CA) and David Cicilline (D-RI) both raised the subject of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).
Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Sherman suggested that the Department of State be neutral as Congress takes up the issue of remembering the Armenian Genocide. "I hope the State Department would at least be neutral should Congress consider - as we are considering [H. Res. 220] - the remembrance of the millions of Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac victims of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century," Rep. Sherman said.
Introduced by Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Representative Dave Trott (R-MI), H.Res. 220 reaffirms the Armenian Genocide and draws on relevant lessons from past genocides "in seeking to prevent war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East." Last month, during the Armenian Genocide Commemoration on Capitol Hill, Rep. Trott announced that he requested H.Res. 220 be scheduled for a vote before he retires at the end of this Congress.
During his questioning, Rep. Cicilline asked: "Will you, as Secretary of State, do what so many other Secretaries of State have not, and recognize the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian citizens during World War I, yes or no?"
In response, Secretary Pompeo indicated that he "will review the issue."
While serving in Congress in 2016, then-Representative Pompeo (R-KS) supported H.Con.Res. 75, "Expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide." He also voted in favor of H.R. 115, the "Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act." The legislation sought "to strengthen investigations, reporting, and monitoring of religious freedom violations, including genocide perpetrated against religious minorities."