“America’s non-response to the Turkish horrors established patterns that would be repeated,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide in Turkey more than 100 years ago, over earlier objections from President Donald Trump.
The move amounted to a stern condemnation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has grown close to Russia in recent months and who criticized a similar resolution passed by the House. Moreover, the Senate advanced Turkish sanctions legislation on Wednesday, threatening to disrupt Trump’s alliance with Erdoğan.
The White House had directed several senators to block the bill in recent weeks. But when Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) took the floor on Thursday, the opposition melted away.
Story Continued Below
“America’s non-response to the Turkish horrors established patterns that would be repeated … we know all too well the horrors that would be repeated later in the 20th century with the Holocaust and other genocides around the world,” Menendez said. “Here in the Senate today, we break those patterns. We join the House who voted to do so … 405-11. Today the Senate shows the same resolve.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who worked closely with Menendez on the proposal, called its passage “an achievement for truth, an achievement for speaking the truth to darkness, for speaking the truth to evil.”
The bipartisan denunciation of Turkey could be the first step in pushback at Erdoğan for buying Russian weapons. Senators have been pushing for enforcement of existing sanctions, and Menendez is among several senators in both parties aiming to tack on more economic pain for Turkey.
Erdoğan visited the White House this fall and held an unusual meeting alongside Trump with Republican senators, temporarily delaying the Senate’s actions against Turkey. But it appears the chamber is getting sick of staying on the sidelines.