Policy & Strategy

Dem senator seeks to prevent military intervention in Venezuela without Congressional approval

Anna Moneymaker

Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced a resolution to prohibit military intervention in Venezuela without congressional approval on Thursday.

“It’s critical that the Venezuelan people are the ones to determine their own future, and that the U.S. does not repeat a failed strategy of military intervention in Latin America,” Merkley said in a statement accompanying the bill.

The resolution would prevent the Trump administration from using authorized funds “to introduce the Armed Forces of the United States into hostilities with respect to Venezuela,” without “specific statutory authorization by Congress.”

President Trump has repeatedly floated using U.S. forces to push out Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and earlier this month he said U.S. military intervention in the country is an “option.”

The administration has dialed up the pressure on Maduro since he was reelected last month, a vote that has been viewed by much of the international community as illegitimate.

The United States instead recognized the leader of the country’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as interim president.

Merkley wrote that Maduro “is a brutal dictator and incompetent leader,” that should step down and allow new elections to occur while an interim government leads.

“The U.S. can and must support the people of Venezuela not through an unconstitutional, unauthorized military intervention, but with humanitarian aid and targeted economic pressure to hasten the day Maduro leaves power,” he adds.

House Foreign Affairs Committee member David Cicilline (D-R.I.) along with 24 other members introduced a similar measure in the House earlier this month. 

That bill would prohibit the administration from using federal dollars to send U.S. forces “into hostilities with Venezuela,” unless Trump declares war on the country or there was a national emergency “created by attack upon the United States or the Armed Forces.”

Speculation over possible U.S. military involvement was raised late last month after national security adviser John Bolton was seen at the White House holding a yellow notepad that indicated the administration may shift 5,000 troops to Colombia.

Bolton would not comment on the note but has said that “all options are on the table,” in regard to military intervention in Venezuela.

And earlier this month the head of U.S. Southern Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. military is ready to protect U.S. civilians and diplomats in Venezuela “if necessary.”

Tags David Cicilline Donald Trump Jeff Merkley
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