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H.R. 854: Humanitarian Assistance to the Venezuelan People Act of 2019

The text of the bill below is as of Jan 29, 2019 (Introduced).


I

116th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 854

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 29, 2019

(for herself, Ms. Shalala, Ms. Garcia of Texas, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mr. Soto, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Espaillat, and Ms. Frankel) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To provide humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people, including Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the Americas and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Humanitarian Assistance to the Venezuelan People Act of 2019.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

Venezuela is in the grips of unprecedented political and economic turmoil marked by hyperinflation, soaring crime rates, and an authoritarian President.

(2)

President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor have, through authoritarianism, graft, and incompetence, precipitated a massive humanitarian crisis both inside Venezuela and throughout the Western Hemisphere.

(3)

The Venezuelan gross domestic product is expected to contract for the sixth year in a row in 2019, with the Government defaulting on its external debt and inflation projected to exceed 1 million percent this year.

(4)

Health outcomes in Venezuela have approached critical levels as food, medicine, and services become increasingly inaccessible, with 11.4 percent of children in Venezuela under 5 years old suffering from moderate or acute malnutrition.

(5)

Nearly 10 percent of Venezuela’s population of 31 million have fled overseas, with nearly 90 percent of those remaining living in poverty.

(6)

Venezuelans have lost an average of 19 pounds of weight due to nationwide food shortages since the beginning of the country’s economic crisis.

(7)

Venezuela is suffering from an 88 percent medicine shortage, with more than 22,000 doctors leaving Venezuela in the past 4 years.

(8)

The Maduro Government has repeatedly rejected offers of humanitarian assistance, despite the return of once-vanquished diseases like diphtheria and measles, rampant cases of malaria, and the sharp rise in infant and maternal mortality.

(9)

Venezuela’s rates of homicide and other crimes have risen dramatically over the course of the crisis, with chronic underreporting contributing to an insufficient understanding of the scope of the crisis.

3.

Requirement for strategy to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela

(a)

In general

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a long-term strategy to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela both in Venezuela and throughout the Western Hemisphere through credible and independent nongovernmental organizations operating in Venezuela or in neighboring countries to alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

(b)

Matters To be included

The strategy required under subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1)

A description of how and to what extent the following assistance will be provided:

(A)

Public health commodities for Venezuelan health facilities and services, including medicines on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines and basic medical supplies and equipment.

(B)

Basic food commodities and nutritional supplements needed to address growing malnutrition and improve food security for the people of Venezuela, with a specific emphasis on the most vulnerable populations.

(C)

Technical assistance to ensure health and food commodities are appropriately selected, procured, and distributed, predominantly through local nongovernmental organizations.

(2)

An identification of United States Agency for International Development best practices in delivering humanitarian assistance, particularly with regard to food assistance and how such best practices are being utilized in providing humanitarian assistance to Venezuela.

(3)

A description of obstacles put in place by the Maduro Government to prohibit the entry of humanitarian assistance into the country.

(4)

A description of efforts to enhance support for countries in the Western Hemisphere in supporting the humanitarian needs of Venezuelan migrants.

(5)

A description of efforts to ensure that humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans is coordinated with other United States bilateral assistance in the Western Hemisphere and does not result in eliminating other bilateral assistance.

(6)

A description of how humanitarian assistance is being monitored and evaluated and what additional staff are managing the assistance.

4.

Comptroller general report on United States efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate a report assessing the impact of United States humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela both in Venezuela and throughout the Western Hemisphere.

5.

Support for efforts at the United Nations on the humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela

(a)

Initial efforts

The President shall instruct the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to secure the necessary votes to—

(1)

place the humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela on the agenda at the United Nations; and

(2)

secure a Presidential Statement from the United Nations urging the Government of Venezuela to allow the delivery of humanitarian relief.

(b)

Additional efforts

(1)

In general

Beginning not later than 30 days after the conclusion of efforts by the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations under subsection (a), the President shall instruct the Permanent Representative to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to secure the adoption of a United Nations resolution described in paragraph (2).

(2)

Resolution described

The United Nations resolution referred to in paragraph (1) is a resolution encouraging—

(A)

the Government of Venezuela to promptly allow safe and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including possible support from neighboring countries; and

(B)

the Government of Venezuela to allow the delivery of food and medicine.

6.

Authorization of appropriations for humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela

(a)

In general

The President is authorized to provide humanitarian assistance to support the people of Venezuela both in Venezuela and throughout the Western Hemisphere.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to the President $150,000,000 each year for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to carry out this section.