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Chairman Menendez to Introduce Legislation Supporting Restoration of Democracy in Venezuela

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced he will be introducing the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development (VERDAD) Expansion Act after the August recess. The comprehensive legislation – which is an extensive legislative update to the VERDAD Act of 2019 – aims to ensure progress in negotiations to restore democracy in Venezuela, address the country’s complex humanitarian crisis, and advance accountability for the Maduro regime’s gross violations of human rights and criminal activities.

“As Venezuela’s citizens and democratic leaders pursue a future defined by freedom, dignity, and justice, Maduro is taking further steps to consolidate his criminal dictatorship. Rather than facilitating conditions for democratic elections, the Maduro regime has dissolved Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, barred leading opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado from running for office, and blocked international election observers from entering the country,” said Chairman Menendez. “While the United States supports a peaceful diplomatic solution to Venezuela’s crisis, our support for negotiations is neither an open-ended invitation nor a blank check. The VERDAD Expansion Act will both provide a lifeline of hope for Venezuelans and serve as a warning to tyrannical regimes across the globe that the United States will not allow their oppressive actions to go unchecked.”

Key Provisions of the VERDAD Expansion Act include:

Supporting Negotiations

  • Reaffirms U.S. policy in support of a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s crisis as defined in the VERDAD Act of 2019

  • If a negotiated solution to restore democracy in Venezuela isn’t achieved in six months from enactment of the legislation, the bill
    • codifies the State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program rewards on Nicolás Maduro and other regime officials
    • requires the President to refer Nicolás Maduro and other indicted regime officials to INTERPOL for Red Notices
    • mandates sanctions on all persons previously designated by Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom but not designated in the United States

  • Updates a sanctions waiver mechanism from the VERDAD Act of 2019 to lift sanctions on individuals who facilitate and implement a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s crisis, if they were not involved in human rights abuses

Expanding Humanitarian Responses

  • Establishes a Venezuelan Forfeiture and Humanitarian Response Fund to repurpose forfeited assets from U.S. criminal cases against Venezuelan nationals to fund humanitarian responses

  • Authorizes $300 million in assistance to communities across the Americas to integrate Venezuelan refugees and migrants

  • Authorizes $240 million in humanitarian assistance for United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan for activities in Venezuela, and requires the United States to seek greater funding by other international donors

  • Prohibits removals of Venezuelan nationals from the United States through third countries to Venezuela

Upholding U.S. Sanctions

  • Authorizes several Executive Orders 13808, 13835, and 13850 on transactions related to Venezuelan debt and Venezuela’s gold sector

  • Codifies Executive Order 13827 on digital currencies in Venezuela

  • Codifies a humanitarian waiver for U.S. sanctions

Strengthening U.S. Responses

  • Adds Venezuela to the jurisdiction of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to ensure an orderly process of adjudication for legal claims of U.S. nationals against the Venezuelan Government

  • Establishes a special envoy for Venezuela

Addressing Malign Activities

  • Requires the State Department to publicly issue a determination on whether the Maduro regime has perpetrated crimes against humanity

  • Establishes an inter-agency task force to counter the illicit mining and trafficking of gold in Venezuela and globally

  • Requires the U.S. to develop and implement a strategy to counter disinformation in the hemisphere, including by the Maduro regime