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Sen. Cruz, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Applaud Final Passage of NICA Act, Soon to be Signed Into Law

December 11, 2018

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) today were joined by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.) in applauding the final passage of H.R. 1918, the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA), which will soon be signed into law by President Trump. The NICA Act imposes targeted sanctions and conditions U.S. approval of international loans to the Government of Nicaragua, ensuring the Ortega regime will be held accountable for its systemic corruption, human rights violations, and assault on democratic order.

“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,” Sen. 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.”

“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,” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said. “I am especially thankful to Bob, Ted, Marco, 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.”

“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,” Sen. Menendez said. “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.”

“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.” 

“In an important day for the Nicaraguan Community, Congress today overwhelmingly passed the NICA Act after many months of hard work behind the scenes,” Sen. 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.”

“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,” Rep. Engel said. “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.”

“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,” Rep. Sires said. “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.”

The bipartisan legislation is a comprehensive package to address the crisis in Nicaragua. It combines two legislative measures authored by Sen. Cruz in partnership with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.): 

The Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (S. 2265), authored by Sens. Cruz and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) directs the United States to oppose international loans to the Government of Nicaragua until the State Department can certify effective steps are being taken to hold free and fair elections, strengthen the rule of law, combat corruption, and protect the fundamental freedoms for all people of Nicaragua. This bill was joined by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). A similar effort led by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), passed the House of Representatives. 

The Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act (S. 3233), authored by Sens. Cruz and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) requires the imposition of sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials responsible for the deaths of protestors, human rights violations and acts of corruption. It calls for a negotiated political solution to Nicaragua’s crisis, including the commitment to early elections, and requires reporting on the involvement of Nicaraguan government officials in corruption and human rights abuses. This measure was joined by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 

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