Congressman Michael Lawler (R-NY) joined with a bipartisan group of Armenian Caucus colleagues in introducing the “Armenian Protection Act” (H.R.7288)—a bill aimed at stopping U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan. Its Senate counterpart (S.3000), spearheaded by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), was adopted unanimously last year, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
Representative Lawler co-authored this legislation with Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and fellow first-term legislator Gabe Amo (D-RI). If and when adopted and enacted into law, the Lawler-Pallone-Bilirakis-Amo Bill will tighten the existing statute restricting U.S. aid to Azerbaijan—Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act—substantively limiting the authority of the U.S. President to waive its full enforcement.
Rep. Lawler, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was adamant about the need for clear Biden Administration action to stop bolstering Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian attacks. “Over 100,000 Armenians were targeted, abused, and displaced by the Government of Azerbaijan when they fled Nagorno-Karabakh in recent months,” explained Rep. Lawler. “There is no question of Azerbaijan’s aggression, yet President Biden continues to turn a blind eye.” He continued to note that “It’s simply unacceptable for the U.S. to be funding Azerbaijan’s campaign against the Armenian people. The Armenian Protection Act will put a stop to the Biden Administration’s funding of Azerbaijan’s authoritarian regime and desire for regional dominance.”
Rep. Pallone stressed the need for Azerbaijani accountability for the genocide against Artsakh’s indigenous Armenian population. “President Aliyev broke international law when he ordered his deadly assault of Artsakh last September and still has not faced any meaningful consequences from the international community. World leaders failed to stop his genocidal campaign that has displaced 120,000 Armenians from their historic homeland even though his belligerent rhetoric and troop movements made it clear an attack was imminent,” stated Rep. Pallone. “It’s far past time for the United States and our allies to take serious actions that will prevent even more death and destruction at the hands of Aliyev and provide the safety and security in the region that Armenia needs to thrive as a democracy. The Armenian Protection Act will finally hold the Aliyev regime accountable, halt any further U.S. security assistance until they end their destabilizing actions in the region, and require proof that they can be a trustworthy party in peace negotiations moving forward. I call upon House leadership to take up this commonsense legislation and pass it immediately.”
Rep. Bilirakis stressed the importance of passing the measure. “Given the political and humanitarian crisis that has resulted from Azerbaijan’s recent aggression toward neighboring Armenia, it is unconscionable that U.S. tax dollars are going to support this brutal regime. Those dollars could better be used here at home,” said Rep. Bilirakis.
“We must send a clear message to the Government of Azerbaijan and our partners around the globe that the United States will not stand for unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people,” said Congressman Amo, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We cannot allow the Government of Azerbaijan to get a free pass for their brutal military aggression and blockades against the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation to show that the United States stands with the people of Armenia and will not accept Azerbaijan’s assault on Nagorno-Karabakh.”