House Overwhelmingly Votes to Recognize Armenian Genocide, But Guess Who Voted 'Present'

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Posted: Oct 29, 2019 9:32 PM
House Overwhelmingly Votes to Recognize Armenian Genocide, But Guess Who Voted 'Present'

Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Ottoman Empire's killings of 1.5 million Armenians over a century ago as a genocide. The resolution passed 405-11, with three representatives voting 'present,' the most notable being Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

From the Los Angeles Times:

The resolution, which is not legally binding, marked the first time in 35 years that either chamber of Congress labeled as genocide the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, which is now modern-day Turkey, between 1915 and 1923 . A similar House resolution passed in 1984.

Support for the measure — particularly among some Democrats — grew after Turkey’s recent offensive against the Kurds along the Turkish-Syrian border, which killed about 200 Kurds and displaced more than 200,000.

“Given that the Turks are once again involved in ethnic cleansing the population — this time the Kurds who live along the Turkish-Syrian border — it seemed all the more appropriate to bring up a resolution about the Ottoman efforts to annihilate an entire people in the Armenian genocide,” said resolution sponsor Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank).

The vote on the bipartisan resolution came on the heels of House passage of economic sanctions against Turkey.

According to the Daily Caller, a vote like this hasn't taken part since 1984 because of Turkey's lobbying in the United States:

A similar vote has not been held since 1984, thanks in large part to Ankara’s heavy lobbying campaign in the U.S. Turkey, a member of NATO, has long disputed the use of the term “genocide” to describe the deaths of Armenians.

The Turkish government has paid millions to U.S. lobbyists to prevent passage of a genocide resolution. Former Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, a Democrat, and former Georgia Rep. Bob Livingston, a Republican, are two of Ankara’s most prominent lobbyists on the issue.

Omar voted "present" during the final vote because of "geopolitics."

"I believe accountability for human rights violations – especially ethnic cleansing and genocide – is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics," Omar said in a statement. "A true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity must include both the heinous genocides of the 20th Century, along with earlier mass slaughters like the transatlantic slave trade and Native American genocide, which took the lives of hundreds of millions of indigenous people in this country. For this reason, I voted 'present' on final passage of H.Res. 296, the resolution Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide."

Not surprisingly, people were upset with Omar's "present" vote.

So much for putting your money where your mouth is, huh?