Thursday, February 07, 2019

Congress Debates Invading Venezuela

The Venezuela military invasion question is percolating in the U.S. Congress. As aid becomes the fulcrum of conflict and tension increases, members of Congress are trying to get ahead of the administration's actions before they are launched.

Marco Rubio was pushing to get congressional (or at least Senate) authorization for the use of force but Bob Menendez nixed it.

Menendez, who was co-authoring the measure with Chairman Jim Risch of Idaho, wrote language declaring that the resolution should be not be construed to allow the for the use of military force there, and was unwilling to go forward without that statement.
Meanwhile, yesterday Rep. David Cicilline co-sponsored a bill expressly prohibiting the use of U.S. Armed Forces in Venezuela "and for other purposes." The full text is not up yet but here is Cicilline's press release:
Cicilline’s legislation, introduced with the support of 20 co-sponsors, prevents the Trump administration from taking any military action related to Venezuela without the approval of Congress required by law.  This administration has frequently pushed the boundaries of the legal requirement to seek congressional approval for military action and this bill will prevent them from doing so in relation to Venezuela.
The discussion can be alarming. See, for example, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina (the "you lie" guy) in a one-minute statement about Venezuela:
We must continue to support hope in Venezuela. Free and fair elections must be held. The people of Venezuela deserve freedom and democracy. 
In conclusion, God bless our troops and we will never forget September the 11th in the global war on terrorism. 
Yes, you are reading that right. He is explicitly tying Venezuela to 9/11.

Not all was creepy, however, Rep. Gwen Moore (who co-sponsored Cicilline's bill) said the following:
The U.S. should support international efforts to achieve a negotiated resolution. Rather than trying to repeat all the mistakes of our failed foreign policy of the past in this region, I urge this Administration to engage with other partners in order to best facilitate a return to democracy.  
Lastly, I share concerns about the individual, Elliott Abrams, appointed by this Administration to serve as a ‘‘special envoy’’ to Venezuela. His history, particularly with regards to his views on U.S. policy in this region, disqualify him to serve as an impartial implementer of a strong diplomatic effort to reach a peaceful resolution. Among other concerns, this individual was twice convicted of lying to Congress and has long held troubling views on how the U.S. should engage with governments in the region with which it disagrees. 
This is a flexible response. Negotiation does not mean you simply sit around and talk. It also involves pressure, but that is applied in a multilateral manner.


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