prohibit Turkey from using U.S. foreign aid funds to lobby against
recognition of the genocide.
"It puts the House on record as saying that the genocide took
place, we know it took place, and we won't allow our money to be used
to deny it," Schiff said.
From 1915 to 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the
Ottoman Turks, but the United States has never acknowledged it as
genocide. Schiff's amendment is the first time the House voted on a
measure related to the genocide.
But a joint House-Senate committee must approve the amendment, and
Republican leaders in the House are already starting to fight it. In
a joint statement, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.),
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and House Majority Whip Roy
Blunt (R-Mo.) insisted the committee drop the amendment and said the
House would not consider officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide
Republicans fear that recognizing the genocide will hurt the
United States' relationship with Turkey, a strategic military ally.
The United States and Turkey jointly operate an air force base in
Incirlik, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.
"Turkey has been a reliable ally of the United States for decades,
and the deep foundation upon which our mutual economic and security
relationship rests should not be disrupted by this amendment,"
Hastert, DeLay and Blunt said in a written statement. Efforts to
reach them Friday were unsuccessful.
Schiff dismissed the notion, saying that Turkish leaders might be
angered for a month and then get over it.
He pledged to work hard to make sure the amendment remains part of
the bill, and he expects help from Armenian- American leaders
throughout the country.
"Up until now, [the Republicans] have been killing this resolution
behind the scenes; killing it with silence," Schiff said. "This is
the first time they've been fleshed out and forced into the open."
In Burbank, the Armenian- American community rejoiced that
Schiff's amendment passed. Ardashes Kassakhian, executive director of
the Armenian National Committee's Western Region, which serves
Glendale and Burbank, heard the news while serving as a counselor at
an Armenian youth camp. He immediately shared it with the campers.
"I told them, boys and girls, we've been working hard for a very
long time to have a success such as this," Kassakhian said. "It's
been a while since we've had a success such as this one, and we
achieved it. The kids all started cheering and singing Armenian