The White House on Thursday asked Senator Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) to block a vote on a bill that would recognize the Armenian genocide, according to Axios.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who have already tried twice to bring the resolution to a vote, but were stymied by the Trump administration.
Cramer’s move to block the vote is especially notable because he was the cosponsor of a 2017 motion to recognize the Armenian genocide while he was a member of the House of Representatives. He said on Thursday that he does not plan to continue objecting to the current bill.
The first time Cruz and Menendez introduced the bill, the White House turned to Senator David Perdue (R., Ga.) to block it. On November 13, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) blocked the legislation, again at the request of the Trump administration, after the senator met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Trump in the Oval Office.
“The only reason I did it is because he [Erdoğan] was still in town,” Graham said at the time. “That would’ve been poor timing. I’m trying to salvage the [U.S.-Turkey] relationship if possible.”
The Turkish government continues to vociferously deny that the Ottoman Empire committed a genocide against its Armenian population despite ample evidence of the atrocity.
The Trump administration has been making efforts to repair a strained alliance with Turkey. Trump has written in support of Erdogan on multiple occasions, and touts the potential of deepened trade ties with the country. The U.S. is also concerned about Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense technology.
In October the House passed a separate resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide for the first time with a vote of 405 in favor to 11 against.