ACCESSION NUMBER:379255 FILE ID:PO5207 DATE:02/14/95 TITLE:CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14 (02/14/95) TEXT:*95021407.PO5 POCONG ROSS/DJM/dc CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14 (humanitarian aid, national security bill) (700) HUMANITARIAN AID CORRIDOR ACT INTRODUCED 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 Simon. HOUSE TO DEBATE NATIONAL SECURITY REVITALIZATION ACT 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 intelligence-sharing. 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 legislation. "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 reporters. 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." NNNN .