South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham blocked a Senate resolution recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of Armenians after joining President Donald Trump at a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey does not recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide. The United States has avoided formally recognizing it as a genocide out of concern that it would harm relations with Turkey.
All that changed when the House of Representatives pass a resolution to formally recognize the genocide in a bipartisan 405-11 vote.
The resolution came after Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and its military assault on the Kurds in the region.
“Recent attacks by the Turkish military against the Kurdish people are a stark reminder of the danger in our own time,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Too often, tragically, the truth of the staggering crime has been denied. Today, let us clearly state the facts on the floor of this House to be etched forever into the Congressional Record: The barbarism committed against the Armenian people was a genocide.”
Senate vote fails:
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, asked for unanimous consent to pass the same resolution that overwhelmingly passed the House on Wednesday.
"The United States foreign policy must reflect an honest accounting of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. We cannot turn our backs on the Armenian victims of genocide," he said.
Menendez pointed to Trump’s Wednesday press conference with Erdogan, where the Turkish president complained about the House resolution and instead promised to "establish a history commission" as evidence that Congress needed to act.
Graham blocked the vote:
Under Senate rules, any senator can ask for consent to pass a bill unanimously but any individual senator can block it.
Shortly after joining Trump for his meeting with Erdogan, Graham blocked the resolution.
"I just met with President Erdogan and President Trump about the problems we face in Syria by the military incursion by Turkey. I do hope that Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem," Graham said.
Graham said that the Senate shouldn’t “sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it,” adding that he was objecting "not because of the past but because of the future."