Senate Panel silent on aid figures to Armenia, signaling support for President’s proposed reduction in economic assistance; Conference Committee likely to reconcile Senate bill with more constructive provisions in the House version
WASHINGTON—The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its version of the Fiscal Year 2013 foreign aid bill, called for continued aid to Nagorno Karabakh, but failed to include specific dollar figures for aid to Armenia, effectively signaling support for President Obama’s proposal to cut economic aid to Armenia by nineteen percent, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
Despite overall reductions in foreign aid spending, Senate Appropriators included language supporting continued assistance to Nagorno Karabakh, noting that: “The Committee recommends assistance for victims of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict. The Committee urges a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” This represents progress over last year’s Senate Committee report, which limited aid to only to “humanitarian assistance,” and did not specify that the amount should be consistent with prior years.
The President, earlier this year, proposed a total of $32,543,000 in FY13 economic aid to Armenia, including $27,219,000 in Economic Support Fund, $2,824,000 in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement assistance and $2,500,000 in Global Health Programs. His proposal represents a 19% cut from the $40,000,000 allocated by Congress for FY12. The Senate, by not including a dollar amount for Armenia, effectively signaled support for the President’s proposed reduction. The U.S. House, which earlier this month approved a $40 million economic aid package for Armenia, will, most likely, seek to reconcile its Armenia aid figures with the Senate version during a conference committee of legislators from both houses.
Similar to last year, the Senate was silent on military aid parity for Armenia and Azerbaijan, which represents tacit support for the President’s budget request that equal amounts of Foreign Military Financing ($2,700,000) and International Military Education and Training ($600,000) be provided to both Yerevan and Baku.
Earlier this month, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee proposed sharply increasing aid to Nagorno Karabakh from $2 to $5 million and rejected the Obama Administration’s proposed $7.2 million cut in aid to Armenia, by calling for $40 million in economic aid to Armenia. The House panel also maintained military aid parity between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and called upon the Administration to formulate a strategy for targeted aid to the Armenian-populated Javakhk region of Georgia. In addition, the panel called on the Secretary of State to continue support for Armenians and other Christian populations at risk due to recent unrest in the Middle East.