Durbin, Menendez, Rubio Lead Bipartisan Group Introducing Comprehensive Bill To Help Restore Democracy In Venezuela

the VERDAD Act significantly expands U.S. humanitarian assistance, strengthens tools to combat kleptocracy and human rights abuses, advances reconstruction planning, and establishes U.S. policy in support of diplomatic solution to Venezuela's Crisis

WASHINGTONToday, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced new comprehensive legislation to help restore democracy and address the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The most comprehensive effort to date to confront the crisis in Venezuela, the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development (VERDAD) Act drastically increases humanitarian assistance, expands current tools to address kleptocracy, formally recognizes and supports the Interim President of Venezuela’s efforts to restore democracy and prosperity in the country, and accelerates planning with international financial institutions to advance the country’s post-Maduro reconstruction. 

“The Maduro regime has bankrupted Venezuela – destroying its democracy and economy in the process,” said Durbin. “Venezuelans are desperate to rejoin the community of democracies, and interim President Guaidó and his talented colleagues are brave patriots who see a more hopeful and democratic future for the Venezuelan people,” Durbin said.  “I’m proud to help introduce this bill with Senator Menendez, which shows our commitment to a thoughtful, peaceful, and democratic transition as provided for in the Venezuelan constitution.”

Joining Durbin, Menendez, and Rubio as cosponsors on the bill include: U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Barrasso (R-WY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

A summary of the VERDAD Act can be found here and the full text can be found here. Key elements of the legislation include:

Support for Venezuela’s Interim President and Recognition of the Venezuelan National Assembly

    • Establishes U.S. policy to pursue a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

Increased Humanitarian Relief for Venezuela

    • Authorizes $400 million of new humanitarian assistance.

Addressing Maduro Regime’s Kleptocracy

    • Prohibits granting and mandates revocation of visas for the family members of sanctioned individuals and establishes a waiver with conditions to lift visa restrictions;
    • Removes sanctions on designated individuals not involved in human rights abuse if they recognize Venezuela’s Interim President;
    • Requires the State Department to work with Latin American and European governments to implement their own sanctions.

Supporting the Reconstruction of Venezuela

  • Requires the Departments of State, Treasury and Justice to lead international efforts to freeze, recover, and repurpose the corrupt financial holdings of Venezuelan officials;
  • Accelerates planning with international financial institutions on the economic reconstruction of Venezuela, contingent upon the restoration of democratic governance.