Wednesday, October 10, 2007
From latimes.com: President Bush and top administration officials urged Congress today to reject a bill that would recognize as "genocide" the World War I-era slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.
With a showdown on the bill scheduled later today in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Bush warned that passage could damage U.S. relations with Turkey, a key ally in the war against terrorism.
The contentious issue has been simmering in Congress for years, as Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), whose district includes more Armenian Americans than any other, has lobbied for the bill's passage. This year, he has collected more than half the House's 435 members to his side -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who has vowed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote for the first time.
The resolution calls on the president to ensure that U.S. foreign policy "reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity" to the issue and to use the word "genocide" in his annual April message about the killings.
Turkey denies that the killings amounted to genocide, saying that Armenians and Turks alike were killed in ethnic clashes after World War I. Turkey, a NATO ally, has threatened to cut off cooperation with the United States on a number of security fronts if the resolution is passed. The country has unleashed a powerful lobbying force, including former House Speaker Bob Livingston (R-La.), to defeat the measure. The bill faces a tougher road in the 100-seat Senate, where Sen. Richard Durbin J. (D-Ill.) has attracted 32 co-sponsors. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]