Jul 16 2016
Washington, D.C. – Two bills sponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) have been signed into law.
The “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015” (S. 2184) was introduced last year and requires the President of the United States to establish and implement guidelines with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans across U.S. international development and economic assistance programs. It also requires the Secretary of State to ensure the ForeignAssistance.gov website contains detailed information regarding U.S. foreign assistance on a program-by-program and country-by-country basis that is updated quarterly. The act would further require that analysis be undertaken by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inform Congress on relevant agencies’ adherence to these benchmarks.
Transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign assistance benefits the American people, who have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and it also allows recipient countries to better include aid flows in their budgets and planning. Additionally, civil society, lawmakers and citizens in developing countries can better hold their governments accountable and reduce the incidence of corruption.
In 2014, President Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act into law, which Senators Rubio and Menendez sponsored in the 113th Congress. The law supports the people of Venezuela in their aspirations to live under conditions of peace and representative democracy as defined by the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States. It also mandates the imposition of sanctions against foreign individuals, including current or former officials of the Venezuelan regime and those acting on their behalf, who committed significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against peaceful protestors and other innocent civilians or directed the arrest or prosecution of a person contrary to their legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly.
Since this bill was signed into law, the Maduro government has continued its attempts to intimidate political opposition and suppress peaceful protestors. Maduro is now using Venezuela’s Supreme Court to invalidate laws passed by the National Assembly. The extension of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 would combat these abuses of human rights and the rule of law by extending mandatory Venezuela sanctions for three years to December 31, 2019.