Bi-Partisan Group of Lawmakers Commend Final Passage of NICA Act, Sending to President’s Desk
(Washington, DC) – Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, was joined by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as well as Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in welcoming the final passage of H.R. 1918, the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA), which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The NICA Act seeks to condition U.S. approval for loans to the Ortega regime from international financial institutions. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced similar legislation, S. 2265, in the Senate. After its approval in the House on October 3, 2017, H.R. 1918 was amended in the Senate to include Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) S. 3233, the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018, which seeks to impose additional sanctions on Nicaraguan regime officials, and which also included Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) amendment targeting the regime’s enablers. The amended H.R. 1918 passed the House of Representatives on December 11, 2018 by unanimous consent.
Statement by Sires: “I would like to thank my colleagues for passing this essential piece of legislation that holds the regime accountable for its misuse of international loans. This legislation directs the U.S. to curb Ortega’s access to international financing institutions until he undertakes serious efforts to combat corruption and hold free, fair and transparent elections. It has become clear that Ortega has no plans to work for the good of the Nicaraguan people, but only do what he can to fill his family’s coffers while he still can. The United States will not stand idly by as the regime continues to stifle democratic processes, consolidate power, and accumulate vast amounts of wealth while the Nicaraguans struggle daily to make ends meet. The Nicaraguan people have suffered at the hands of Ortega and his cronies for far too long, and I urge the President to promptly sign this bill into law. I would like to thank my good friend from Florida, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Senator Menendez for their leadership on this issue.”
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for passing the NICA Act that will help the Nicaraguan people break free of Ortega’s despotic rule. I am especially thankful to Bob, Ted, Marco, Patrick, Eliot, and Albio who joined me in this effort from the very beginning, as we witnessed years of Ortega’s increased corruption and repression. With the final passage of the amended NICA Act, Congress took a leap forward in creating further accountability against the heinous abuses committed by Ortega and his puppets. In a desperate effort to cling to power, Ortega and his thugs have continued to clamp down on free speech and peaceful demonstrations. The United States has answered the call of the Nicaraguan people and will continue to do so in support of much needed electoral and human rights reforms.”
Statement by Menendez: “Today’s final passage of the NICA Act shows that the United States Congress will not stand idly by as the Ortega regime continues its dictatorial campaign of extrajudicial killings and repression against the people of Nicaragua,” said Senator Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This bipartisan legislation will hold Ortega, Murillo, and their accomplices accountable for their widespread human rights abuses and for plundering state coffers for their own profit. This bill also ensures that U.S. sanctions will target the Ortega regime without affecting the Nicaraguan people, and offers much-needed support for a negotiated solution to this crisis.”
Statement by Cruz: “I have been proud to work alongside Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and our colleagues in the House and Senate to pursue meaningful democratic reform and combat human rights abuses in Nicaragua,” Senator Cruz said. “For years we fought hard for this meaningful legislation, and today’s vote in support sends a loud message to the Ortega regime that the United States will not allow regimes that commit such atrocities and undermine the rule of law to benefit from international financing.”
Statement by Rubio: “In an important day for the Nicaraguan Community, Congress today overwhelmingly passed the NICA Act after many months of hard work behind the scenes,” Senator Rubio said. “We are one step closer to expanding sanctions and other pressures against the oppressive Ortega regime and sending a clear message that the United States will not tolerate the ongoing human rights violations. I thank Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who spearheaded these efforts, for her tireless work in support of democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”
Statement by Leahy: “The violence perpetrated by agents of the Ortega Government against Nicaraguan students and other protesters has shocked the hemisphere,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “The purpose of this bill is to signal to the Nicaraguan people that we support their desire for a government that is not corrupt, does not act with impunity, and respects the civil and political rights of its citizens. The best way forward is a free and fair election, as soon as possible.”
Statement by Engel: "It's long past time for Congress to hold Daniel Ortega and his cronies accountable for the egregious crimes that they continue to commit against the Nicaraguan people. Passage of the NICA Act sends a loud and clear message that the House of Representatives and Senate will continue our steadfast support for democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua."