WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congress released the negotiated fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill that includes three pieces of legislation to support the Venezuelan people introduced by South Florida Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Reps. Donna Shalala (FL-27), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).
The bill includes Mucarsel-Powell’s Humanitarian Assistance for the Venezuelan People Act of 2019, which provides for much needed assistance for Venezuelans suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere. The bill authorizes $400 million in aid directly to the Venezuelan people both in Venezuela and in neighboring countries that are impacted by the refugee emergency the situation has created.
“The Venezuelan people need our help. The crisis in that country is now the most underfunded refugee crisis in modern history,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “I am pleased that our legislation to aid the Venezuelan people will be included in FY 2020 appropriations bill that will not only help the people in Venezuela but also their neighbors that have been taking in hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees. We must not turn a blind eye to human suffering at the hands of a corrupt regime.”
“When I ran for office, I made a promise to the Venezuelan community in South Florida to stand up to the tyranny of the Maduro regime,” said Shalala. “From the moment I was sworn in, my Democratic colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to help the Venezuelan people. The legislation being included in this year’s government funding bill is the culmination of months of hard work and it will hopefully help bring about the end of a regime that has long overstayed its welcome.”
“I am grateful to Representatives Shalala, Wasserman Schultz and Mucarsel-Powell for their impressive leadership in authoring innovative legislation that increases U.S. pressure on Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. By increasing humanitarian aid, holding the Russian government more accountable and stopping the transfer of defense and crime control items to Venezuela, my colleagues are ensuring that we put our country’s best foot forward in supporting the long-suffering Venezuelan people,” said Chairman Engel, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The people of my district know all too well the dire humanitarian needs of Venezuela. The Maduro regime’s repeated failures to address the suffering of its own people is only exacerbated by the military sway exerted by Russia throughout the entire region,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The inclusion of this legislation in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Bill – paired with legislation that offers humanitarian assistance and bans the export of crime control materials, authored by my esteemed House colleagues – will provide badly-needed tools and aid to Venezuelans who want to see democracy restored.”
Earlier this year, Reps. Mucarsel-Powell, Wasserman Schultz, and Shalala, introduced legislation aimed at alleviating the crisis in Venezuela by increasing humanitarian assistance, banning the export of defense articles and crime control materials to the regime’s security forces and providing for a threat assessment to better understand Russia’s growing military sway in Venezuela.
The Congresswomen’s legislation passed the House and was later included as amendments to the VERDAD (Venezuelan Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act) Act, Senate legislation introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Marco Rubio (FL), targeting the Maduro Regime and aiding the people of Venezuela. The VERDAD Act as a whole, including the three Democratic House bills, was included in the FY2020 funding bill.
The bills are:
- H.R. 920 – Venezuela Arms Restriction Act
- H.R.1102 – Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act
- H.R. 854 – the Humanitarian Assistance to the Venezuelan People Act of 2019