A Republican Senator from North Dakota blocked a resolution recognizing the Armenian and Greek Genocide from being passed by unanimous consent in the United States Senate on Thursday — the third time a GOP senator has done so since the House overwhelmingly passed the legislation by a 405-to-11 vote.
Senator Kevin Cramer was acting at the direction of the White House, said the resolution’s Republican co-author, Ted Cruz of Texas.
“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, 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’s accepted as fact by the vast majority of historians, but hotly contested by the Turkish government, which maintains the death toll is inflated.
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 other Republicans who’ve objected to the bill are Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and David Perdue of Georgia. Graham launched his objection after meeting with President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office.
Cramer issued his objection two days after he announced the Army Corps of Engineers had awarded a $270 million contract to a North Dakota company to work on the border wall. Cramer had repeatedly lobbied Trump to award the contract to the company, Fisher Sand and Gravel.
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