CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the House will consider S. 2142, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, under suspension of the rules. S. 2142 was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on March 13, 2014 and was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill was passed in the Senate on December 8, 2014, as amended, by voice vote. H.R. 4587, a similar Venezuela sanctions bill, passed the House by voice vote on May 28, 2014.
 Senate Committee Report 113-175.
S. 2142 notes the violent crackdown of the government of Venezuela on antigovernment protesters after the student uprising began on February 4, 2014, the many violations of basic human rights by the government on its citizens, and the unjust jailing of many demonstrators and opposition leaders, including Leopoldo Lopez. It expresses the sense of Congress that the U.S. aspires to an improved bilateral relationship, supports the people of Venezuela and their right to protest peacefully, and their right to free expression within a framework of respect for human rights and the rule of law. To date, no Venezuelan public official or security enforcement officer has been held accountable for the acts of violence associated with the anti-government protests.
S. 2142 directs the President to impose sanctions (asset freezes and visa bans) on any foreign person, including any current or former Venezuelan official, that the President determines (1) has perpetrated, or is responsible for ordering or otherwise directing, significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against persons associated with the antigovernment protests in Venezuela that began on February 4, 2014; (2) has ordered or otherwise directed the arrest or prosecution of a person in Venezuela primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly; or (3) has knowingly materially assisted, sponsored, or provided significant financial, material, or technological support of, the commission of the foregoing acts described above. S. 2142 contains an exception related to the importation of goods and U.N. personnel. There is also a Presidential waiver if it is determined to be in the national interest of the U.S. and would terminate on December 31, 2006. S. 2142 also requires the Broadcasting Board of Governors to report to Congress on broadcasting, information distribution, and circumvention technology distribution in Venezuela.
According to CBO cost estimates, implementing S. 2142 would cost $2 million over the 2015-2019 period. The bill would have insignificant effects on direct spending and revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.