Discuss Shared Commitment Toward Securing U.S. Support for Artsakh Demining Efforts
LOS ANGELES—Friends, supporters and leaders of the Armenian National Committee of America joined with Congressional Armenian Caucus Republican Co-Chair David Valadao for an afternoon focused on the safety and security of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and the shared commitment to advancing a broad range of Armenian American concerns.
“We are proud to count Congressman Valadao as a champion of the Armenian Cause in the U.S. Congress,” shared ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian after the August 18th gathering. “His command of the issues facing Armenia and Artsakh today is – in a word – impressive. We are pleased that so many ANCA supporters who live in California’s San Joaquin Valley have a distinguished individual like Congressman Valadao representing them on Capitol Hill,” the ANCA Chairman added.
“Congressman Valadao’s leadership has been instrumental in advancing our core community priorities,” said National Organization of Republican Armenians (NORA) leader Aram Gaboudian. “From Artsakh aid to ensuring a principled US policy on the Armenian Genocide, he has been an effective advocate from day one.”
Hailing from California’s 21st Congressional District, which includes a large portion of the San Joaquin Valley, including towns around the City of Fresno, Congressman Valadao has consistently earned an “A” rating on the ANCA’s Congressional Report Card for his active representation of the Central Valley’s growing Armenian American community.
Congressman Valadao is a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee, where he is working with the ANCA to ensure that U.S. aid continues to be used to de-mine the Republic of Artsakh – which was littered by lethal mines and unexploded Azerbaijani ordnance. The House is set to consider the Federal Fiscal Year 2018 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, along with 7 additional spending measures, upon its return from Congressional summer recess.
Thanks to the efforts of the ANCA and the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone and former Republican Co-Chair Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) – the U.S. has provided millions in funding to The HALO Trust, which has successfully demined approximately 97% of Artsakh. Over the last 16 years, the HALO Trust has destroyed over 8,733 anti-personnel mines, 2,584 anti-tank landmines, 180,858 small arms ammunition, 12,423 cluster bombs and 48,572 other explosive items. Amy Currin, who serves as HALO Trust’s Head of Development, provided an outstanding presentation to the Congressman and to those in attendance on the life-saving de-mining efforts of HALO’s front line employees in Artsakh.
The ANCA’s efforts to secure direct U.S. assistance to Artsakh date back to May 1, 1997, when Congressman Brad Sherman offered an amendment, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to the Foreign Policy Reform Act, to authorize direct U.S. funding for Artsakh. While the Sherman amendment would fail, it set the stage for the ANCA’s work later that same year with then-senior appropriator Congressman Joe Knollenberg of Michigan, who successfully worked to ensure that the House Appropriations Committee approved a Foreign Aid bill (Public Law 105-118) that ultimately led to the allocation of $12 million in Federal Fiscal Year 1998 aid for Artsakh.
Congressman Valadao, who was born and raised in the small town of Hanford, California, was elected to the California State Assembly in 2010. Shortly thereafter, he sought and won the race to represent the constituents of California’s 21st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Valadao’s family emigrated to the United States in 1969 from the Azores Islands in Portugal. Like his father, the Congressman runs a dairy farm in addition to managing over 1,000 acres of farmland in Kings and western Tulare County, on which Valadao and his family grow alfalfa, corn, and wheat as dairy feed stock.