Despite a last-minute push from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and others, Congress adjourned for the year on Wednesday without voting on a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide — a blow to proponents who will now have to contend with a much harder audience in a Republican-controlled House next year.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Congress has now recessed without passing the resolution to honor the 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children who were lost in the first genocide of the 20th century, and I know that my feelings are insignificant when compared to the continued pain of so many in our community," Schiff said in a statement.
He vowed to reintroduce the legislation next year, when the Republicans, who have been more steadfast in their opposition to the resolution, will control the House.
The resolution, which would formally assign blame for the death of 1.5 million Armenians on Ottoman Turks, has met stiff opposition from the Republic of Turkey. The Obama administration also opposed the resolution out of fear that it would harm strategic ties with Turkey.
But proponents of the genocide resolution have said those ties have deteriorated as Turkey has acted against U.S. interests in Iraq and Israel. Yet Turkey has committed troops under NATO command to U.S.-led military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and allows for significant use of a U.S. air base on its territory.
Still, Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, expressed disappointment with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for failing to schedule the resolution for a vote.
"The speaker had the majority, the authority and the opportunity to pass the Armenian Genocide resolution, but chose to block a bipartisan majority from voting on this measure," he said.
Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America, said in a Washington press conference Wednesday that the resolution would have harmed U.S.-Turkey relations and prompted a "bitter fight" on the floor.
He said that conflicts in the region go back centuries and are far more complex than portrayed by Armenian-American advocates.
"They have to look at the whole picture," he said.
He credited Republican House members for standing against the vote, and said the resolution "will never see the light of day" in a Republican-controlled Congress next year.
Even so, Hamparian said momentum continues to gather for the resolution. More than 40 states, including California, have recognized the genocide, and Hamparian said more courts and historians also are verifying the accuracy of the claims by Armenian nationals.
"The arc of this issue has been toward greater recognition," he said. "It is unfortunate that there are folks who have yet to grasp the moral imperative of standing up against all genocide, past and present."