Senator Robert C. Byrd was elected Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate in January 1977 at the beginning of the 95th Congress. In his new position of power, Senator Byrd’s focus was not only on securing necessary federal aid for his home state of West Virginia, but also on national and international affairs which required the Senate to act.
Three years earlier, then Majority Whip Byrd voted in favor of imposing an embargo against U.S. ally Turkey following its invasion of the island nation of Cyprus in response to a cue led by Greek Cypriots. Claiming a violation of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, the Senate forced President Gerald Ford to accept the terms of the embargo, which he viewed as detrimental to any diplomatic solution to the conflict in Cyprus.
In Cyprus, the three years since the Turkish invasion saw the division of the island into two states: the Republic of Cyprus, controlled by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, solely recognized by Turkey. In late 1974, the Republic of Cyprus had restored its leader, Archbishop Makarios III to power, but the tensions over the island territory continued to plague Cypriots in addition to global foreign policy.