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Sen. Cramer at a rally with Trump. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The White House directed Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) to block an effort by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday to pass a resolution via unanimous consent formally recognizing Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: This is the third time that the White House has directed a Republican senator to block the resolution, a symbolic measure already passed by the House that would infuriate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  • Cramer said on the Senate floor that he doesn't think this is "the right time" to pass the resolution, noting that President Trump has just returned from meeting with Erdoğan at the NATO summit in London, and that the resolution could undermine the administration's diplomatic efforts.

Cramer's objection is especially noteworthy given that he was a co-sponsor of a similar resolution during the last Congress.

  • Cramer tweeted a picture in September 2017 thanking actor Dean Cain for visiting Capitol Hill to "raise awareness on the Armenian genocide."
  • He stated on the Senate floor Thursday that he does not intend to continue objecting to the resolution.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The backdrop: As Axios has previously reported, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was asked to block the resolution on Nov. 13 after meeting with Erdoğan at the White House.

  • Graham told Axios at the time that he was trying to "salvage the relationship" between the U.S. and Turkey, which has been under considerable strain in the wake of Turkey's military invasion of northern Syria.
  • He added: "I'm not going to object next time."

The following week, the White House asked Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) to block the resolution.

  • A Perdue spokesperson told Axios: "Senator Perdue objected due to concerns that passage of the resolution would jeopardize the sensitive negotiations going on in the region with Turkey and other allies."

The big picture: Trump clashed with France's Emmanuel Macron at a NATO summit in London this week over Turkey's role in the military alliance. Macron criticized Turkey for its assault on U.S.- and French-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria, as well as its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system over the objections of its NATO allies.

  • Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to sanction Turkey over the S-400 purchase.
  • Trump said at the NATO summit that he has a “very good relationship” with Erdoğan, dodging a question over whether he’d approve the sanctions.

Sen. Cramer's office and the White House did not provide a comment.

Go deeper:

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Updated 13 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.