Rep. Chu (D-Calif.) observes demining training in Artsakh in Oct. 2019. Halo Trust

California Democrats Judy Chu and Jim Costa called for continued U.S. support for demining programs Nagorno Karabakh, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reported. The calls came on February 27 as the House Appropriations Subcommittee on foreign aid began work on its version of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

The Trump Administration has sought to make deep cuts to existing foreign aid programs and the State Department previously indicated that the program in Artsakh would be wrapping up in 2020.

Rep. Chu noted that “USAID is trying to end support for this program with little to no justification.. this request of $10 million pales in comparison to the $100 million in security assistance given to Azerbaijan, so we can be sure that financial constraints are not the obstacle here.”

The Congresswoman was referring to the reports of more than $100 million in security assistance that the U.S. extended to Azerbaijan in FY2018-19, news of which was first reported by the Focus on Karabakh.

Earlier this month, ANCA called for $100 million aid package to Armenia in FY2021, including Artsakh demining, which the Congressional Armenian Caucus has also endorsed. The Caucus has also called for “the suspension of U.S. military aid for Azerbaijan until it has been verified to have ceased all attacks against Armenia and Artsakh.”

Rep. Chu, joined by fellow California Democrat Jackie Speier, visited the Halo Trust facilities in Stepanakert last year.