WASHINGTON–The 2009 Appropriations bill, signed into law by President Obama earlier this week once again maintained military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and included $48 million in assistance to Armenia and another $8 million for Nagorno Karabagh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"We would like to thank Chairwoman Lowey, Chairman Leahy, and all the supporters of Armenian American concerns on their two panels for reaffirming military aid parity, approving a robust aid package for Nagorno Karabagh, and doubling the Bush Administration’s patently insufficient $24 million aid request for Armenia," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "We look forward, in the coming year, with a new Administration in the White House, to working with our Congressional friends to restore U.S. aid to a level commensurate with actual needs in Armenia, the many challenges she faces in the region, and the scope of the growing U.S.-Armenia relationship."
The FY09 Armenia appropriation of $48 million is twice the amount proposed by the Bush Administration, which consistently sought to reduce U.S. support for Armenia, but still $10 million (17%) less than the actual FY08 allocation, and $22 million (31%) short of the $70 million proposed by the Armenian Caucus.
The Congress, in rejecting the Bush Administration’s final attempt to break the military aid parity agreement it reached with Congress in 2001, set Foreign Military Financing levels for both Armenia and Azerbaijan at $3 million.
The $8 million aid figure for Nagorno Karabagh reflects the U.S. House’s version of the foreign aid bill, crafted under the leadership of Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, and represents a historic high-water mark in direct U.S. support for this program.
Among the strongest supporters of Armenian American concerns on the Senate foreign aid panel are Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Republican Judd Gregg (R-NH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Arlen Specter (R-PA). In the House, supporters include Chairwoman Nita Lowey, full Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Mark Kirk (R-IL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Jesse Jackson (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (R-MN), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), and Adam Schiff (D-CA).