House clears Venezuela sanctions bill

The House on Wednesday cleared legislation directing President Obama to impose sanctions against Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights abuses.

Passed by voice vote, the measure would authorize the president to issue sanctions in the form of freezing assets and banning visas of any current or former Venezuelan officials found to be responsible for human rights abuses against protesters.

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In addition, the bill requires the Broadcasting Board of Governors to report to Congress within 30 days on the ability of Venezuelans to have access to "accurate, objective and comprehensive" news about domestic and international affairs.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the bill's author, said Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro's regime should face consequences for suppressing protests.

"The people of Venezuela have been crying out for help," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Today, Congress speaks in a unified and bipartisan voice."

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) said the resolution would express solidarity with the Venezuelan citizens who have protested against the Maduro government.

"The world has watched closely over the last year as Venezuela's president has stifled the Democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people. Peaceful protesters seeking basic rights and dignity have been met with violence," Vargas said.

The Senate passed the measure by voice vote Monday night.

Maduro blasted the sanctions threat and called senators "insolent" for approving the bill, according to the BBC.

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