Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives finished debate today on the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, after the Rules panel approved 650 out of a record 1,230 proposed amendments for floor consideration. The slew of amendments, made in order, represents an increase from last year, when lawmakers voted on 476 of them.
The passage of the 2023 NDAA authorizes nearly $840 billion in discretionary spending for the upcoming fiscal year. That’s $37 billion more than President Biden requested and $71.1 billion more than was authorized for 2022. The White House said Tuesday it “strongly supports” the legislation in general and did not object to the bill authorizing more money than Biden sought. A separate version of the annual defense policy bill still has to be considered in the Senate, and then both versions will be reconciled in conference committee before the bill makes its way through both chambers for final adoption.
The Armenian Council of America (ACA) praises the U.S. House of Representatives for passing several Armenia- friendly and pro-Artsakh amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23).
ACA’s Chairman Sevak Khatchadorian stated “We wholeheartedly commend the House of Representatives for adopting these significant, pro-Armenia bipartisan measures, and are grateful to all of the amendment sponsors, co-sponsors and supporters who spoke truth to power and refused to be intimidated by either Baku or Ankara. We urge Congress to ensure these measures are secured in the final passage of the FY2023 NDAA.”
The ACA fully supported the passage of the following amendments to the FY2023 NDAA:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) bipartisan amendment which demands that Azerbaijan release all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians resulting from the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). This amendment was cosponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Katherine Clark (D-MA), David Valadao (R-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Dina Titus (D-NV), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Debbie Lesko (D-AZ), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Kim Young (R-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).
Rep. Chris Pappas’ (D-NH) amendment, which was debated as a stand-alone amendment, will limit the sale of F-16s and F-16 modernization kits to Turkey in response to the Biden Administration’s increasing malleability to following through with such a sale, unless the President provides a certification to Congress that such a transfer is in the national interest of the United States and includes a detailed description of concrete steps taken to ensure that such F-16s are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece. The amendment was co-sponsored by Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), and John Sarbanes (D-MD), and supported by Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). “The passage of this bipartisan amendment sends a strong message to Turkey and to the international community that the United States will not allow the Erdogan government to escape accountability for violating U.S. law and the standards of the NATO alliance,” said Congressman Pappas. “I will continue working across the aisle to take all necessary actions to prevent F-16s or any other American-made weapons from falling into Erdogan’s hands.”
The amendment sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and co-sponsored by Rep. Darin Lahood (R-IL) requires a report within 90 days of enactment that contains an evaluation of the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Lebanon (with a focus on individuals suffering from malnutrition and food insecurity), as well as the impact of the decline of wheat imports to the country due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rep. Tony Cardenas’ (D-CA) bipartisan amendment, backed by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David Valadao (R-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Andy Levin (D-MI), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Jim Langevin (D-RI) Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), requests that a report on Azerbaijan’s warmongering activities in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in 2020 be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of Defense (in coordination with the Secretary of State).
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) provided an amendment to the NDAA that will strengthen U.S. policy interests in the South Caucuses region by requiring detailed reporting and accountability for any U.S. assistance provided to Azerbaijan under the waiver provisions of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, including an assessment of Azerbaijan’s use of offensive force against Armenia or violations of Armenian sovereign territory from November 11, 2020. This amendment was supported by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), David Valadao (R-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA). The Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) expressed that many members have been “very concerned over the years about the constant waiver of requirements under Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act because the bottom line is that Azerbaijan has continued its aggression against Armenia and started a war against Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh a couple of years ago.” Pallone emphasized “the constant threat that Azerbaijan poses not only to Nagorno-Karabakh, but also to Armenia itself that continues ever since that war.”
Chairman James McGovern’s (D-MA) two amendments modifies reports to Congress under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to include actions taken to address underlying causes of the sanctioned conduct, and to pursue judicial accountability in appropriate jurisdictions for sanctioned individuals or entities – as well as to strengthen monitoring and oversight on arms sales and human rights.
“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives sent a clear message to the Putins, Erdogans and Aliyevs of the world that tyrannical acts by despotic regimes will not go unnoticed or unanswered by the U.S. Congress,” said ACA Communications Director, Arsine Kaloustian.
As a grassroots organization, ACA is dedicated to working with all political leaders, offering Armenian related news, analysis and resources for policymakers, media, students and activists, advocating issues important to Armenian Americans. The ACA also aims to strengthen U.S. – Armenia and U.S. – Artsakh ties, the development of programs promoting sustainable economic growth and good governance in Armenia, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship.