“It’s never been convenient, but we do these things not out of convenience,” Schiff said after the vote. “We do this because it is right, and if we don’t recognize the tragedies that pass, we put ourselves at risk of seeing their repetition.”
While most members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs agreed that the atrocities constituted genocide, many raised concerns about the diplomatic implications of passing the legislation.
Turkey, a NATO ally and partner in the United States’ military operations in Iraq, has previously expressed strong opposition to congressional efforts to recognize a genocide that Turkish officials say never happened.
In 2007, Turkey recalled its ambassador as similar legislation moved out of the committee, prompting concerns that the nation would refuse to allow U.S. troops to move through its borders and into Iraq.
Some representatives Thursday were concerned that the resolution’s approval would jeopardize relations and create obstacles for U.S. military operations that currently benefit from Turkish cooperation.
“There’s no question that these things happened, but the question is: Is it the right thing today to pass this type of resolution?” said Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. “What good is it going to do? I don’t see that it’s going to do anything."
The White House also expressed concern that the resolution could stump a fledgling dialogue between Armenia and Turkey, which recently produced a set of protocols through which the nations plan to establish regular diplomacy.