TEXT:*95021407.PO5  POCONG  ROSS/DJM/dc


(humanitarian aid, national security bill) (700)


At a joint news conference February 14, Republican and Democratic House

members discussed legislation they had introduced that would prohibit U.S.

assistance to any country that prohibits or restricts the transport or

delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance to other countries.

Christopher Smith, chairman of the House International Relations Committee's

Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, said: "Americans

open their hearts to refugees and displaced persons in countries less

fortunate than their our own.  That third countries should impede the

delivery of such aid is unacceptable; it should be an obvious and

unobjectionable principle of U.S. foreign policy that countries keeping

U.S. humanitarian assistance from reaching third countries should not

receive U.S. aid or other support."

Smith, a key sponsor of the legislation, said that although the language of

the bill is not country-specific, it is widely known that Armenia and

Turkey would be affected by it.

Turkey, he said, is preventing delivery through Turkey of U.S. government

assistance to more than 300,000 refugees in Armenia.  "Unfortunately,

Turkey has refused to permit transshipment through its territory, which

necessitates expensive, and not always reliable, rerouting through

Georgia," he said.

Ankara has justified its refusal, Smith said, by pointing to what it

characterizes as the occupation of Azerbaijani territory by

Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.  "Turkey, however, is not a party to the

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  There is no reason for Turkey, whatever its

ties to Azerbaijan, to block the delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid to

Armenia," Smith said.

Smith said he thinks the Clinton administration opposes the proposed

legislation, but he said he still plans to hold hearings on it soon.

Accompanying Smith at the news conference were House Democratic Whip David

Bonior and Democratic Representatives Joseph Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy and

Frank Pallone, co-chair of the newly-formed Congressional Caucus on

Armenian Issues.

1One of the key goals of our caucus," Pallone said, "is to maintain strong

U.S. support for the people of Armenia as they make the transition to a

democratic society and a market economy."

Turkey, he pointed out, "continues to receive huge amounts of U.S. aid while

brazenly blocking our efforts to help the Armenian people get on their feet

and become a strong self-sufficient nation."

Joseph Kennedy said, "We are here to say, 'enough is enough.' It is

important that the United States assert its moral leadership."

The legislation is identical to a Senate bill that was introduced earlier

this year Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Democratic Senator Paul



The House Rules Committee February 13 granted a modified open rule for

debate on the National Security Revitalization Act, the part of the

Republican Contract With America dealing with defense, foreign policy and


The legislation is scheduled for floor action February 15 and 16.

The Rules Committee decided to permit two hours of general debate on the

bill, and an additional ten hours of debate on amendments to it.

The three committees that share jurisdiction over the legislation --

International Relations, Intelligence and National Security -- earlier had

approved their parts of the bill by mostly party line votes.  The Clinton

administration opposes many parts of the legislation.

House Democratic leaders reacted strongly to the short time the Rules

Committee is allowing for debate on the complex and far-reaching


"America's foreign policy has developed over 200 years -- through the

dedication and cooperation of both political parties.  But now, the

Republicans want to deform and distort those policies in a ten-hour

rubber-stamping frenzy," House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt told


Declaring that "this isolationist, extremist package of foreign policy

slogans would ravage our national security," Gephardt said, and "we won't

stand for it."

House Minority Whip David Bonior said, "The Republicans are in such a hurry

to punch another hole in their contract that they're willing to blindly

rush through a bill that will punch a gaping hole in our national security.

 "This mad rush to fulfill the Republican contract is going to weaken

America's defenses and weaken our military readiness."