October 8, 2019 - 11:57 AMT
Speier, Chu amendments take center stage during visits to Armenia

Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Kanchelian Speier and leading proponent of Artsakh security, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), kicked off their visit to Armenia and Artsakh, focusing attention on recent Congressional amendments spearheaded by the two California legislators, and backed by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) – appropriating an additional $40 million in U.S. assistance to Armenia and implementing Royce-Engel peace proposals to reduce tension along the Artsakh – Azerbaijan border.

“These visits by Reps. Speier and Chu are all the more meaningful – for all Armenians, from their home Congressional Districts to the farthest reaches of our Armenian homeland – in light of their recent legislative leadership in securing the adoption of House amendments supporting Armenia’s democracy and strengthening Artsakh’s security,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to their successful visits, and of course, to continuing to engage here in Washington, DC with House and Senate leaders to ensure that these provisions remain in the final bills signed into law by the President.”

Rep. Speier, with the support of Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), introduced the Speier amendment to the House version of the Fiscal Year 2020 Foreign Aid Bill, appropriating $40 million in democracy aid to Armenia. “It is very important at this point in time that we do everything in our power to support this new democracy,” stated Rep. Speier during House floor debate in June. “Armenia has a rare and potentially fleeting window of opportunity to consolidate and build upon its democratic gains. […] Armenia has earned a clear signal that the United States supports its democratic transformation and resources will be brought to them to carry out that transformation.”

Thousands of ANCA Rapid Responders and Armenian Americans across the U.S. reached out to their U.S. Representatives in support of the Speier Amendment for Armenia assistance through the ANCA’s March to Justice portal. In the days leading up to the vote, ANCA Leo Sarkisian Summer Interns amplified the nationwide constituent advocacy, visiting with every U.S. House office in support of the measure, which was adopted by a vote of 268 to 153 in June.

Armenian National Assembly Chairman Ararat Mirzoyan, who invited the two Congressional leaders from California, welcomed the American lawmakers, and thanked Representatives Speier and Chu for their efforts in advancing support for Armenia in Congress, especially highlighting Rep. Speier’s efforts to secure $40 million of additional financial assistance to Armenia to improve democratic institutions.

Representatives Speier and Chu also met with Armenia Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan where they reviewed Armenia’s foreign policy priorities and progress in the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) peace process. In a meeting with Supreme Judicial Council President Ruben Vardazaryan, and Council members Grigor Bekmezyan, Sergei Chichoyan and Hayk Hovhannisyan, the Members of Congress received an update on judicial reforms in Armenia.

Representatives Chu and Speier are scheduled to travel to the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), where they will be meeting with government leaders and visiting the U.S. funded de-mining program, led by The HALO Trust. Central to the day’s discussions will be the Chu Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Bill, led by Congresswoman Chu with the support of Congressional Armenian Caucus Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA).