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Senate Passes Sweeping Menendez-Rubio Legislation to Address Maduro’s Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela and Advance International Effort

The Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development Act, also known as the VERDAD Act, reaffirms U.S. support for Interim-President Juan Guaidó and the democratically elected National Assembly, provides a major increase of U.S. humanitarian assistance, strengthens tools to combat kleptocracy and human rights abuses, and establishes U.S. policy in support of negotiated solution to Venezuela’s crisis.

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, issued the following statements following final passage of a bipartisan deal on federal government spending, which included the VERDAD Act to address the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

“I am incredibly proud to have led the effort to pass the VERDAD Act, the single largest legislative package of U.S. support to Venezuela and a sign of our unwavering commitment to the Venezuelan people,” said Menendez. “The VERDAD Act greatly expands the U.S response to Venezuela’s tragic humanitarian crisis and its impact on our closest partners in the region. It maintains strategic pressure on the Maduro regime and advances efforts to address the vast amount of resources stolen from the Venezuelan people by regime officials. Our legislation also sends a clear message to sanctioned regime officials: if you’re not involved in human rights abuses and support the return of democracy in Venezuela, including new presidential elections, the sanctions can go away.”

“I am proud to have led this push for the VERDAD Act, a comprehensive legislative effort that strengthens our nation’s response to Venezuela’s man-made humanitarian crisis and the coordinated international effort for a post-Maduro Venezuela,” said Rubio. “As usurper-in-chief Nicolás Maduro continues his illegitimate grip on power, the U.S. is reaffirming its unwavering support for interim President Juan Guaidó and the democratically elected National Assembly. By granting $400,000,000 in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan migrants and hosting neighboring communities, the United States is once again reiterating its support to the people of Venezuela and our regional allies who have made a tremendous effort in welcoming the migrants.”

The VERDAD Act was also cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and John Kennedy (R-La.).

Key provisions of the legislation

  • $400 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuela and neighboring countries
  • $17 million in support for democratic actors and civil society in Venezuela
  • Strengthens U.S. support for Interim-President Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s democratically-elected National Assembly, and a negotiated solution to the Venezuelan crisis.
  • Establishes a waiver to lift targeted sanctions on individuals that take steps to restore democracy in Venezuela
  • Requires the State Department to report on the Maduro regime’s complicity in crimes against humanity
  • Restricts entrance into the U.S. for family members of sanctioned individuals/

Sanctions in Response to Kremlin interference in democratic institutions abroad 

  • Prohibits visas for the families of sanctioned Maduro regime officials
  • Requires new efforts to freeze and recover assets stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro regime
  • Codifies a prohibition on arms sales to the Maduro regime
  • Prohibits visas for individuals working with the Russian government to undermine democratic governance in Venezuela