Republican Senator Kevin Cramer prevented the U.S. Senate from voting on a resolution on Thursday, December 5 that would recognize the Armenian Genocide, saying it was not an appropriate time to pass legislation that would anger Turkey, Reuters reports.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the resolution by an overwhelming 405-11 in late October. But there has not been a vote in the Senate, where President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a majority of seats.
Congressional aides said the White House does not want the legislation to move ahead while it negotiates with Ankara on sensitive issues such as Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and the NATO ally’s purchase of an S-400 missile defence system from Russia, which could provoke U.S. sanctions.
The resolution asserts that it is U.S. policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. The Ottomon Empire was centred in present-day Turkey.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Ted Cruz tried to force a Senate vote on the resolution on Thursday. Cramer blocked it, saying the time was not right just after Trump held talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at NATO summit in London.
“I don’t think there’s a single member of the Senate who doesn’t have serious concerns about Turkey’s behaviour,” Cramer said, adding, “At the right time, we may pass it.”
Menendez disagreed, noting Erdogan recently visited Washington and nothing had changed. He promised to come to the Senate chamber once a week to raise the issue.
“I am not going to cease until we do what is morally and principally right,” Menendez said.