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Pallone Blasts House Speaker for Saying He Has "No Intention" of Bringing up Genocide Bill

July 16, 2004
Press Release

July 16, 2004

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert

Speaker of the House

H-232

U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker,

I write to you today to express my deep regret and disappointment over the statement released earlier today from yourself and members of the Leadership, regarding the Schiff Amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

I disagree with your statement on a number of levels. First and foremost, the Schiff amendment put the House on record that it would no longer tolerate Turkey's intimidating lobbying efforts towards any recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

I'm also puzzled by your insistence that Turkey is a reliable ally of the United States. As a supporter of the Iraq War, I'm sure you recall Turkey's continued demands in the months leading up to the war in which Turkey asked for billions of dollars in financial assistance. When the U.S. government refused, Turkey said it would not help the U.S. in the war against Iraq. Turkey's decision forced the U.S. government to amend its war plan, and yet you characterize them as a "reliable ally."

Furthermore, past experiences have shown that Turkey's threats about repercussions to the United States or any country that defies them is nothing more than elaborate bluffs. Yet, we in the United States government, continue to buy into their threats and abide by their requests.

The U.S. House of Representatives, in 1975 and 1984, adopted resolutions commemorating the Armenian Genocide. In 1996, the House adopted an amendment to the foreign aid bill reducing U.S. aid to Turkey by $3 million due to its ongoing campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. None of these actions by the House were followed by anything approaching the doomsday scenario predicted by the Turkish government.

We as a nation cannot allow the government of Turkey to undermine our democratic process and usurp our principles. To do so is to stand against the will of the people of the United States. Mr. Speaker, last night Mr. Schiff introduced a sound amendment that approved by the House of Representatives. Yet your statement today, undercuts that vote and asserts that the people's voice can be silenced.

I'm disappointed that you've decided not to bring H. Res. 193, the Genocide Resolution, to the House floor for a vote this year, despite the fact it received strong bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee. Your actions today are consistent with those in October 2000 when you pulled an Armenian Genocide Resolution from the House schedule minutes before it was to come up for a vote. I have no doubt both resolutions would have passed if you and the Republican Leadership had simply allowed a floor vote.

In closing, I ask that you reconsider your position and, not only allow a Conference Committee to determine the merits of the Schiff amendment, but also finally allow a House vote on the Genocide Resolution.

Sincerely,

                                                                     Frank Pallone, Jr.

                                                                     MEMBER OF CONGRESS

CC: Majority Leader Tom DeLay

Majority Whip Roy Blunt