CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, July 5, 2016 the House will consider S. 2845, Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Extension Act of 2016, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on Aprl 25, 2016, by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Committee reported the measure on April 28, 2016 with an amendment The Senate passed S. 2845 with an amendment by unanimous consent on April 28, 2016.
S. 2845 would amend the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 to extend provisions requiring the President to impose sanctions against individuals in Venezuela who are responsible for human rights violations until December 31, 2019.
Although the United States has historically had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations rose under the leftist populist government of President Hugo Chávez , who died in March 2013. Nicolás Maduro, who had been serving as Chávez’s vice president, won elections in April of that year. Despite this change in presidency, the U.S. continues to have concerns about the deterioration of human rights and democratic conditions in Venezuela.
High rates of crime and violence fueled student-led street protests in February 2014, which were violently suppressed by Venezuelan security forces and militant pro-government civilian groups. The government arrested and imprisoned the opposition leader during these protests. Although the protests largely dissipated by June 2014, at least 43 people were killed on both sides of the conflict and more than 800 were injured.
In December 2014, President Obama signed into law the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-278) which requires the President to impose sanctions (asset blocking and visa restrictions). against those who the President determines are responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with the 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly. The President’s authority to impose sanctons terminates on December 31, 2016 under ths publc law. S. 2845 would extend ths termination date until December 31, 2019.
According to the bill sponsor, “Because the Maduro regime continues to violate human rights and expand its political oppression, the U.S. must continue doing our part to address this growing crisis in Venezuela. There are numerous examples of why these sanctions need to remain in place for the foreseeable future, including Maduro’s abuse of Venezuela’s Supreme Court to nullify laws like the one to release scores of political prisoners. The Maduro regime’s abuses of power and violations of human rights are hurting innocent people in our hemisphere and threaten the national security interests of the United States, and we have a responsibility to stand with the Venezuelan people by extending these sanctions.”
 See CRS In Focus, “Venezuela: Background and U.S. Policy,” May 4, 2016.
 See Press Release, “Senate Passes Rubio, Menendez Bill Extending Venezuela Sanctions,” April 28, 2016.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing S. 2845 would cost $1 million each year through 2019 and total $3 million oiver the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. In addition, CBO estimates enacting this legislation would affect direct spending and revenues and those effects would be negligible, but pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Finally, CBO estimates that S. 2845 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.