1. Update
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Congress Advances Bill to Prohibit War in Venezuela

By Emmet Hollingshead, April 12, 2019


On April 9, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H.R. 1004, Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela.

The bill prohibits the use of funds for military intervention in Venezuela without authorization from Congress. It provides an exception, tracking the War Powers Resolution, for an attack on the U.S. or its armed forces. By passing this bill into law and removing the option of unprovoked and unwarranted military action, Congress can play an important role in constructing a peaceful U.S. foreign policy. It is not yet clear whether or when the bill will be brought before the full House for consideration.

The people of Venezuela are struggling through a humanitarian and political crisis. The United States must address the situation with restraint, careful thought, and compassionate action -- not military intervention.

Committee passage of H.R. 1004, like the April 4 vote to end American military participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, is a major step for Congress in reasserting its constitutional authority over matters of war and peace. The bill makes crystal clear that the President does not have the right to start a war without prior approval from Congress.

In a previous hearing on the bill, the committee invited Deborah Pearlstein, a professor of constitutional international law at Cardozo Law School, to testify on the bill’s legal implications. Pearlstein declared that the bill’s restrictions were “well within Congress’ constitutional power,” noting that “the Constitution expressly requires Congress to authorize military expenditures ‘in the face of their constituents’ every two years, ensuring that the government’s most profound power remained squarely in the hands of ‘the representatives of the people.’”

The people of Venezuela are struggling through a humanitarian and political crisis. The United States must address the situation with restraint, careful thought, and compassionate action -- not military intervention.

Instead of using military force, the United States should support efforts by the Lima Group, particularly Uruguay and Mexico. These regional partners for peace and diplomacy are best positioned to lead the international community and the Venezuelan people through the crisis. In the meantime, the United States can contribute to international security by reducing tensions and stopping its own saber-rattling. On questions of democracy and justice in international affairs, war is still not the answer.

Update Support dialogue and diplomacy, not military intervention in Venezuela 

The people of Venezuela have suffered through years of severe economic hardship and political crisis brought on by a repressive and authoritarian government.

Emmet Hollingshead

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

As FCNL’s Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights, Emmet Hollingshead lobbies for more peaceful, ethical, and holistic U.S. foreign policy. Our international stance should not be based on military might, but on compassionate and inclusive leadership focused on mutual interests. To that end, Emmet works with members of Congress and their staff, fellow peace activists, and grassroots supporters to develop better ways for the U.S. to engage with the world.