By Emilio Luciano Cricchio
Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota was instructed by White House staff to block the Senate resolution that would recognize the Armenian Genocide.
This is the third time the White House has asked an individual Republican Senator to block the resolution from passing the US Senate.
According to the original article by Axios, Senator Cramer said that his foreign affairs team was contacted by the White House in order to block the resolution and that “the White House wanted the resolution blocked because President Trump had just met with the Turkish President at the NATO Summit.”
On October 30, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted, 405-11, to pass a resolution calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The resolution now is in the Senate. It is cosponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). This is the third time that both senators have attempted to pass the bill by “unanimous consent,” which would speed up proceedings and bypass procedural steps.
On November 13, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), blocked the resolution shortly after attending a meeting between President Erdogan of Turkey and US President Donald Trump.
The South Carolina Senator said: “Erdogan was still in town… That would’ve been poor timing. I’m trying to salvage the relationship if possible.”
He also added, “I’m not going to object next time.”
The second time the resolution was blocked, was by Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia).
A spokesperson for Senator Perdue said to reporters, “Senator Perdue objected due to concerns that passage of the resolution would jeopardize the sensitive negotiations going on in the region with Turkey and other allies.”
In another setback for the sponsors of the resolution, Senator Cramer now is the third Senator to prevent the passage of the resolution.
This is quite a turn around from Senator Cramer’s 2017 tweet where he applauded efforts to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide, furthermore according to the Axios article, Senator Cramer also sponsored a similar bill in the previous Congress.
However, the GOP Senator, like Senator Graham, also added that he won’t continue objecting to the resolution.
According to CNN, Senator Cramer said, “I don’t know that it can be objected to much longer.”
Further saying, “If Senator Menendez (proposed the resolution) every week, the day of passing (...) won’t be long. (...) I don’t know what the right time is, but this isn’t it, (...) and maybe there’s never a perfect time. But at some point, he’ll succeed, it’s my belief.”
Analysts believe that the White House is in damage control mode and trying to salvage American-Turkish relations after Congress has been calling on the Executive to get tough with Turkey after purchasing S400 missile systems from Russia as well as for its military incursion into North West Syria after the withdrawal of US troops. Members of Congress and Senators, including Senator Graham, have also been calling for sanctions to be imposed on Turkey.
President Trump’s administration does not want to further damage relations with Ankara by having the passage of a resolution recognizing the 1915 Genocide, a move which President Erdogan has warned against, calling it “the biggest insult,” and “worthless.”
But as US Senators like Graham and Cramer say they will no longer object and the White House loses its options in stopping the resolution from reaching the Senate floor, it may welll be possible for the resolution for Armenian Genocide recognition to pass in the near future.
The Armenian National Committee of America, Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, “President Trump is finding it harder and harder to find pro-Ankara allies among Senate Republicans who are – with just a handful of exceptions – sick of Erdogan and tired of enforcing his foreign vetoes.”
In picture: Sen. Cramer at a rally with Trump. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images