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Think Again: Congress comes up lame in last session

January 12, 2011

The 111th Congress held its lame-duck session until Christmas to wrap up unfinished business before Democrats ceded control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans. But the business it failed to address is a most fundamental one.

Up until the last hours, there was hope that Reps. Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Howard Berman, Frank Pallone, Chris Van Hollen and other lawmakers were going to successfully bring House Resolution 252, the Armenian Genocide bill, to a floor vote.

There was bipartisan support, and had the bill been brought to a vote, it would have passed. While the resolution was non-binding, thus not having the force of law, it was a meaningful expression of Congress that America was drawing the line when it comes to our principles and values.

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Some think this bill addressed a "historical" issue limited to the concerns of the Armenian American community, but such an assessment is shortsighted. The line Congress would have drawn with passage of House Resolution 252 was about our country's credibility on human rights and ending the cycle of genocide. We would have demonstrated our unwillingness to compromise our American values and principles to help the Turkish government's continued denial of a crime against humanity.

It would have also sent a strong signal that Turkey's support of Sudan's leadership that has committed genocide in Darfur is unacceptable.

This is the opportunity that the House Democratic leadership, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer missed when they betrayed their commitments to get this legislation passed. Instead, they willfully chose to continue making our country an accomplice to Turkey's genocide denial, which flies in the face of America's great history in helping victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide and other genocides around the world.

Failure to bring the legislation to a vote also has put many members of Congress in a precarious position with constituents, making it seem like they don't have the wherewithal to deliver on promises. Pelosi made a cold political decision to give the Obama Administration the cover it wanted with Turkey, but at a huge price.

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