U.S. House overwhelmingly approves resolution recognizing Armenian genocide

(Updated with new information on the resolution)

The U.S. House of Representatives recognizes Armenian genocide on Tuesday afternoon with an overwhelming majority.

The U.S. House Rules Committee on Tuesday cleared the Armenian Genocide Resolution for an up-or-down vote of the full House of Representatives, the Armenian Weekly reported citing the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The U.S. House of Representatives, for the first time in more than 30 years, will vote on Tuesday on a motion to formally recognise the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

The House adopted the rule for H.Res. 296 by a vote of 223 to 191.

The resolution is set to reach the House floor under a “closed” rule, allowing Representatives to vote on the resolution, as introduced, without amendments, ANCA said.

The vote will begin at approximately 16:45.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shared a fact sheet on the resolution with the ANCA ahead of the vote.

The resolution was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Bob Menendez.

The “Rule” for consideration of H.Res.296 will be discussed on Tuesday at 12:30 EST for up to 1 hour, with the House floor discussion starting as early as 14:45 EST and lasting up to 1 hour.  The vote is expected to take place soon thereafter. 

The Republic of Turkey denies that the killings were planned and coordinated by the Ottoman government, and says they therefore do not constitute a genocide.

Ankara has also disputed the number of deaths, which it places far below a million, and says that not enough scholarly work has been done on primary sources to adequately discuss the events starting in 1915.

The news came at a time when U.S. lawmakers sought to rebuke Turkey over its Syria offensive, Yahoo news said.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched an offensive in northeast Syria against the United States’ Kurdish allies after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to withdraw from the region, and the president has been facing severe bipartisan criticism over the decision.

U.S. presidents have previously shied away from recognising the Armenian genocide due to Turkey’s importance as a strategic ally, including the presence of İncirlik, a crucial airbase in the south of the country that holds U.S. nuclear warheads.

“When I had the hearing in 2000, the Ambassador from Turkey – because I had both sides at the table, the Armenians and the Turks – he threatened us with Incirlik,” House Foreign Affairs committee member Rep. Chris Smith said. “Frankly, with a friend like that in NATO, who needs enemies?”

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said the United States had remained silent on this issue for a long time, and he hoped to change this soon.

"This has been years in the making, thanks to the tireless advocacy of those who insisted the US must never be a party to genocide denial. I hope all Members join me next week in voting to recognize the Armenian Genocide," Schiff said.

The U.S. government has not always had the same stance on the Armenian genocide.

In 1951, the U.S. government submitted an official document to the World Court, acknowledging the events for the first time as an example of genocide. 

Later on, in 1975 and 1984, the House of Representatives adopted two resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. 

The last U.S. president to refer to events of 1915 as genocide was Ronald Reagan, who issued a Presidential Proclamation on the matter on April 22, 1981.