Press Release

November 3, 2021
Cardin, Menendez, Rubio, Sires, Salazar, Colleagues Celebrate Final Passage of RENACER Act

WASHINGTON – Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md). and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.),  SFRC Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), and Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27), were joined today by a group of six of their colleagues in applauding the House of Representatives’ final passage of their Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act, legislation to dramatically increase the United States’ response to the continued use of repressive tactics by Daniel Ortega and his government to intimidate, inhibit, or arrest every aspiring opposition candidate ahead of Nicaragua’s scheduled elections on November 7th.

The bipartisan legislation was first adopted by the full Senate in August of this year and was reapproved earlier this week to make necessary technical changes ahead of today’s final passage by the House of Representatives. The legislation now goes to President Biden for his signature and enactment.

“The Nicaraguan people deserve better than the oppressive Ortega regime.  A more inclusive and honest election process.  A government that responds to the people’s needs for fairness, accountability and justice,” said Senator Cardin. “The United States needs to continue to stand for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Today, as the RENACER Act heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature, I am proud to see Congress come together – in a bicameral, common-sense way – to let the people of Nicaragua know we are not turning a blind eye to their cries of desperation,” said Chairman Menendez. “It’s not very often that Republicans and Democrats are able to come together these days to find common ground and address a serious challenge – this bill is a rare exception. We are witnessing the worst authoritarian assault on democracy in Latin America in decades, and I am proud to lead this effort for Congress to act decisively so the Ortega-Murillo regime knows there will be major consequences for the pseudo coronation of their dynastic dictatorship. I look forward to working with President Biden to ensure the swift implementation of the RENACER Act.”

“Ahead of Sunday’s sham presidential election in Nicaragua, the Congress of the United States is sending a strong message against the corrupt and authoritarian Ortega-Murillo regime and its attempt to subvert the will of the Nicaraguan people,” said Senator Rubio. “The Biden Administration should swiftly sign this bill into law and work with international allies to coordinate sanctions against this regime.”  

“Having locked up every potential opponent, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega will soon hold a coronation ceremony in place of an election,” said Rep. Sires. “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who worked hard to pass this bipartisan legislation, which will improve our sanctions coordination with allies, expand oversight of international financial institutions’ lending to Nicaragua, and hold Ortega accountable for his regime’s crimes against humanity. Today’s passage of the RENACER Act shows that the United States Congress will not stand by as Ortega consolidates a one-party dictatorship and it reflects our firm support for the democratic aspirations of the Nicaraguan people.”

“For months, the Nicaraguan people have pleaded for us to help stop Daniel Ortega’s reign of terror. The passage of the RENACER Act will hit Ortega where it hurts just days before he solidifies his dictatorship through his sham presidential elections,” said Rep. Salazar. “It’s past time we review Ortega’s ability to profit from free trade with the United States. Thank you to my colleagues for taking bold action against this evil regime and for standing with the Nicaraguan people during their fight for democracy. The United States is making its message clear – access to American markets is a privilege, and we should not do business with dictators.”

The legislation proposes new initiatives to monitor, report on, and address corruption by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s government and family, as well as human rights abuses perpetrated by Nicaraguan security forces. The RENACER Act also requires the United States government to increase sanctions on key actors in the Ortega regime that prevented democratic elections in Nicaragua, and expand sanctions coordination with Canada and the European Union. The bill also calls for the executive branch to open a formal review to determine whether Nicaragua should be allowed continued participation in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Additionally, the bill requires increased intelligence reporting on Russian activities in Nicaragua and a review of Russian arms sales to Nicaragua for potential sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Other Senate sponsors of the RENACER Act include Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“The Ortega regime’s oppression of political opponents continues to worsen at an alarming rate,” said Senator Kaine. “As Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I’m proud our legislation is one step closer to becoming law. With this bill, we are sending the people of Nicaragua a strong message that the United States stands with them in their quest for democracy and freedom.”

“I’m pleased to see the House take a major step forward in holding Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega and his family accountable for their corruption, human rights abuses, and undermining of Nicaraguan democracy,” said Senator Durbin. “And with Ortega having cowardly jailed major opposition voices, the upcoming election lacks all legitimacy.  Their release and a credible election is the only path forward.”

“The RENACER Act sends a clear, unified message that the United States stands with the Nicaraguan people. Protecting human rights and democracy abroad must be at the core of U.S. foreign policy. This bipartisan legislation helps us target the Ortega regime’s corruption and protect democracy ahead of Nicaragua’s elections this month, and I look forward to President Biden signing it into law,” said Senator Murphy.

“Today, Congress sends a unified message to the Nicaraguan regime. Daniel Ortega and his Marxist strongmen have hijacked democratic institutions and criminalized the opposition, resulting in a fundamentally unfree society with a deteriorating economy, governed by fear and repression. The bipartisan, bicameral support of the RENACER Act shows the United States stands unequivocally with the brave Nicaraguans calling for their freedom,” said Senator Cruz.

“Florida is home to 160,000 people who were born in Nicaragua or are of Nicaraguan heritage, and they—like I—care deeply about Nicaragua’s future,” said Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7). “I’m so proud our bipartisan bill to promote free and fair elections in Nicaragua and to hold accountable Nicaraguan officials who try to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the Nicaraguan people passed the House today and will soon become law.”

“Ortega’s Nicaragua is now Latin America’s third socialist regime,” said Representative Mark Green (R-TN-7). “I am grateful for the leadership of Congresswoman Maria Salazar, and to Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Albio Sires, for his advocacy on behalf of Nicaragua’s political prisoners and for their leadership on this bipartisan legislation that will require targeted sanctions against corrupt regime officials who have dismantled Nicaragua’s democracy. The U.S. must condemn the electoral charade taking place on Sunday and urge our international partners to join us.

 The RENACER Act includes the following elements:

  • Aligns U.S. diplomacy and targeted sanctions to promote democratic elections, including a review of key Nicaraguans that have dismantled prospects for free, fair, and transparent elections;
  • Calls for the executive branch to review Nicaragua’s continued participation in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA);
  • Expands oversight of international financial institutions’ lending to Nicaragua and reaffirms the existing statutory waiver for humanitarian projects;
  • Requires sanctions coordination with Canada and the European Union;
  • Adds Nicaragua to the list of Central American countries subject to corruption-related visa restrictions;
  • Requires classified reporting on corruption perpetrated by President Ortega’s government and family, as well as Russian government activities in Nicaragua;
  • Requires reporting on Russian military sales to Nicaragua and a review for potential sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA); and
  • Requires reporting on human rights abuses committed by Nicaraguan security forces in rural and indigenous communities.

Find a section-by-section summary of the bill HERE.

Find the full text of the bill HERE.