A Republican lawmaker blocked a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide from being passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on Thursday — the third time a GOP senator has done so since the House passed the legislation by a 405-to-11 vote, NBC reported.
The senator, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, was acting at the direction of the White House, said the resolution’s Republican co-author, Ted Cruz.
“Those objections have been raised on behalf of the administration. The administration has asked senators to raise objections,” the Texas senator said, calling that position “a mistake.”
The resolution “acknowledges the horrific atrocity that was the Armenian genocide, the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians that for far too long has been covered up, has been hidden, and US policy has not acknowledged,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s Democratic co-author on the resolution, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, said he was “deeply disappointed” by Cramer’s objection and noted that Cramer had co-sponsored similar legislation on the genocide in the past.
Cramer said on the Senate floor that “I support the spirit of the bill” but “I don’t think this is the right time” to pass it because of the Trump administration’s current negotiations with Turkey over a range of topics including Syria and missile defense.
“There’s never a good time,” Menendez said after Cramer’s objection. “In my view there’s always a right time, however, to recognize genocide as genocide.”
The resolution, which was passed by the House in late October, recognizes the Ottoman Empire’s mass killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. That is accepted as fact by the vast majority of historians but hotly contested by the Turkish government, which maintains the death toll is inflated.
Cruz said he was optimistic the resolution would pass eventually.
“I think Turkey is a NATO ally, and they’re an important NATO ally, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the truth and ignore reality,” Cruz added.