This week, the U.S. House passed on a voice vote a proposal from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., to have the U.S. State Department provide a threat assessment and propose strategies on dealing with Russia’s increased ties to the Maduro regime’s military in Venezuela.
Wasserman Schultz introduces the “Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act” at the end of February with the backing of Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Donna Shalala and Darren Soto and Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
The South Florida Democrat’s bill would “require the president to monitor the risk of Russian acquisition of...Venezuela’s CITGO assets in the United States , as well as impose a visa ban for any individuals working on behalf of the Russian government in direct support of Venezuelan security forces.”
The House passed Wasserman Schultz’s bill on Monday along with Mucarsel-Powell’s bill proposing $150 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans and Shalala’s proposal cutting off tear gas and riot gear to the Maduro regime.
Wasserman Schultz weighed in on her bill after it cleared the House.
“This menacing Kremlin influence creates not only a hurdle to restoring a functioning, legitimate democracy to the people of Venezuela, but it also poses an imminent military threat to the entire Western Hemisphere. We not only need a detailed assessment of what kind of threat this poses, but a strategy for dealing with it,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Our goal, regardless of party, is to allow for the peaceful transition to Venezuela’s rightful leader, interim President Juan Guaidó, and for the peaceful execution of free and fair elections. This bill takes a critical step toward understanding and addressing the impact of military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela, and ensuring it does not impede democracy or safety in the region.
“As his people suffer and protest all around him, Maduro survives inside an oil-soaked cocoon that the Russian Federation provides his regime,” Wasserman Schultz added.
“The Russia-Venezuela Threat Mitigation Act...requires close investigation and continued monitoring of the role that Russia has played in propping up the Maduro regime,” Diaz-Balart said on Monday. “After Russia has sent nuclear-capable bomber plans and, as recently as this weekend, additional military support to Venezuela, we must keep a close eye on Russia’s threat to stability and democracy in our hemisphere. Regrettably, the Maduro regime has invited America’s adversaries such as Russia and China to our doorstep.”
So fare there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate.
“Right now, the people of Venezuela are enduring an unimaginable onslaught of hunger, preventable medical dangers and dire, escalating economic pain,” Wasserman Schultz said. “We cannot stand idly by while Putin assists Maduro in carrying out this inhumane and barbaric tragedy. The Russia-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act will make it harder for the Kremlin to outfit Maduro with weapons of oppression.”