Senate Republicans Continue To Block Bipartisan, House-Passed Venezuela TPS Legislation

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans today again blocked bipartisan, House-passed legislation that would designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and protect approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals in the United States from deportation.  U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) was joined by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the Senate floor to make a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019.  U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) objected on behalf of Senate Republicans.

Durbin and Menendez have repeatedly made unanimous consent (UC) requests to immediately pass this legislation on the Senate floor, but Senate Republicans have blocked every request.  This bipartisan bill passed the House more than one year ago, on July 29, 2019.  This legislation is only needed because the President, who could immediately grant TPS to Venezuelans without Congressional action, refuses to do so.

“This Administration can grant TPS without Congressional action, but it refuses.  Senate Republicans could pass the bipartisan house bill to grant Venezuela TPS.  They refuse as well.  Let it be clear: the real failure to help Venezuelans in the United States rests on their shoulders,” Durbin said.  “The Venezuelan policy, like so many others with this Administration and its Senate enablers, is only there to serve the President – President Trump – and no one else.”

Video of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of the UC request on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Last year, Durbin, along with Menendez and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act of 2019, a bill to immediately grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans fleeing the dire conditions in their home country and to strengthen migration systems in the countries surrounding Venezuela. 

In April 2019, Durbin joined Menendez in introducing the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act (VERDAD ACT) of 2019.  The legislation significantly increases U.S. 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.

In 2018, Durbin traveled to Venezuela where he met with then-President Nicolas Maduro, members of the opposition including Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Health and Nutrition, business leaders, civil society groups, doctors, and humanitarian organizations. 

Yesterday, Durbin spoke via phone to interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó about the ongoing violent repression and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela caused by the discredited regime of Nicolás Maduro.