Congressman Michael Waltz voted for temporary protective status for Venezuelans, a move not yet embraced by Trump administration and in opposition to majority of House Republicans.
Congressman Michael Waltz, who has previously called for a humanitarian effort in Venezuela, took it a step further this week by voting, in essence, for protections for Venezuelans living in the United States.
[FROM VENEZUELA TO U.S.: Family finds a better, safer life in DeLand]
[HOW VENEZUELA GOT TO WHERE IT’S AT]
The Democrat-controlled House this week passed a bill to award temporary protective status, or TPS, to Venezuelans in the United States.
Food shortages, hyperinflation and other economic woes have led the nation on the northern coast of South America into political chaos, including a struggle over the presidency between incumbent Nicholas Maduro and Juan Guaidó, who’s been recognized as acting president by the National Assembly and more than 50 countries including the United States. The situation has led to about 4 million refugees from Venezuela, including 290,000 in the United States.
Temporary protective status extends the legal stays of eligible Venezuelans by 18 months. The U.S. Senate has not taken up the measure, which can be enacted without Congress by the Department of Homeland Security.
Waltz was one of 39 Republicans, six of whom were from Florida, to vote in favor. The others: Mario Diaz-Balart, a cosponsor, and Brian Mast, Frances Rooney, Ross Spano and Ted Yoho.
Waltz, who represents Volusia and Flagler counties as part of his district, explained his position in an emailed statement this week.
“The situation in Venezuela is dire and the U.S. must act to protect Venezuelans until they can return home. This is exactly what TPS is designed for,” Waltz said. “These temporary protections buy these victims time for survival until freedom and democracy return to Venezuela and Maduro’s tyranny is relegated to the ash heap of history.”
Although his administration has not yet offered TPS to Venezuelans, President Trump has said the United States “is standing right by their side,” including stepping up sanctions against Maduro associates it says have enriched themselves through the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP).
“Nicolas Maduro’s socialist regime has plunged Venezuela into catastrophe and I’m glad President Trump has sided with the Venezuelan people in standing up to Maduro,” Waltz said.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo praised the passage of the Venezuela TPS Act, cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, and advocated for passage in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
“Now it is on Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to stand up for the Venezuelan community and put pressure on Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and allow this bill to be heard and voted on in the Senate,” Rizzo said in a news release.