House prepping Venezuela resolution

The House is preparing a bipartisan resolution that condemns the recent violence in Venezuela and calls on the U.S. to work with other countries to support pro-democracy demonstrators.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) proposed the measure Tuesday with 15 other House members, and a House aide said it would be marked up in the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on Friday. The measure from Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member and former chair of the full committee, could be on the House floor by next week.

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The resolution, H.Res. 488, comes in the wake of several days of violence across the country. Students and others are protesting President Nicolas Maduro, whose government has responded with an aggressive use of the military.

"With at least over a dozen dead and more than 100 injured in countrywide protests against the Maduro regime, the United States has a moral obligation to take a clear stand in support of the Venezuelan people," Ros-Lehtinen said Tuesday.

"My resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Venezuela will send a clear message to Maduro and his thugs: We are watching how they treat their citizens, and their abusive actions will not go without consequences," she added. "I urge the administration to keep the pressure on the leaders of Venezuela to end the violence and respect their citizens' dignity, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to support me in this fight."

As the protests have spread, tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela have increased. Maduro has called for the deportation of three U.S. officials. That threat was made after the State Department and President Obama spoke out against the violence.

Obama said the Venezuelan government should hear the "legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people."

Ros-Lehtinen's resolution says the U.S. should support representative democracy and freedom of expression in Venezuela, and condemn violence against political opposition.

It says the U.S. "deplores the inexcusable violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters in Venezuela, and the growing efforts to use politically motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country's political opposition."

It calls on other countries to work with the U.S. to ensure democratic freedoms in the country, and says the Organization of American States should convene its Permanent Council to find a way to end the violence.

Ros-Lehtinen's resolution was proposed with the support of eight Republicans and seven Democrats — of the 16 members on the resolution, 10 are from Florida.

— This story was updated at 2:09 p.m.