A bipartisan effort in the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to safeguard elections in Venezuela. Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D) and Maria Elvira Salazar ((R) have introduced the VOICE Act, which would support free elections in the country.
Rep. Wasserman-Schultz, the co-chair of the Congressional Venezuela Democracy Caucus, and Rep. Salazar, the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, introduced the Venezuelans Overcoming Interference and Corruption in Elections Act, otherwise known as the VOICE Act.
In a statement, Rep. Wasserman-Schultz shared that “with backing from America’s most dangerous adversaries, Maduro and his cronies continue to draw from the dictatorial playbook to the detriment of Venezuelans.” She went on to explain that the bill “draws a red line when it comes to his desperate attempts to cling to power by disenfranchising his opponents,” adding that “the U.S. and its allies must stand united in our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela.”
Rep. Salazar echoed in her remarks, commenting that “in the face of renewed regime tactics to eliminate political opposition and steal the 2024 elections, the United States must support Corina Machado and all those who are risking their lives to face the dictatorship.” Should the bill pass, it would restore “the focus on Venezuela so that the dictator Maduro and his band of criminals can’t keep getting away with the looting and destruction of the country.”
The bill comes the same week as the Biden administration announced it would be extended Temporary Protection Status for Venezuelans.
According to a press release from Salazar's office, the bill would ensure the following:
- Expressing the consensus position of the United States that attempts to undermine Venezuelan democracy deserve condemnation and that the Venezuelan people deserve support in their efforts to advance democracy and use peaceful, electoral methods to achieve their goals;
- Imposing asset- and visa-blocking sanctions on any person involved in efforts to ban opposition candidates from participating in Venezuela’s elections;
- Providing for coordination between the U.S. and democratic partners in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, as well as multilateral institutions like the Organization of American States, to provide technical assistance in election administration, ensure the integrity and security of voter information, dispatch election observers, and document attempts to suppress the opposition vote;
- Laying out conditions for what the United States considers a resolution of the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela;
- Requiring the appointment of a Special Envoy for Venezuela to coordinate policy initiatives, oversee political negotiations, and assist with consular issues for Venezuelan Americans and Venezuelan migrants and refugees in third countries; and
- Generating a report on promoting independent news and countering malign foreign influence in Venezuela.