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Two Jewish congressmen are working to keep the Armenian genocide bill from reaching the U.S. House of Representatives floor.

U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.), as well as three other opponents of the controversial bill memorializing the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, spoke harshly of its implications for U.S. relations with Turkey at a news conference Wednesday in Washington.

The bill, which would label the killings as genocide, was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a 27-21 vote on Oct. 10. At that time it had 226 co-sponsors, but support has waned due to threats from Turkey to withdraw support for American troops in Iraq if it is passed.

More than half of the cargo traveling from the U.S. to Iraq is flown through Turkey’s Incerlik air base, and Turkish troops are allied with Americans on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush is fiercely opposed to the resolution.

“The Middle East is a tinderbox,” Wexler said. “Our responsibility is to bring as much stability as is humanly possible.”

Cohen added that passage of the bill would cause “real-time harm to real people.”

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