Venezuela congress defies push to take over its powers

Venezuela's congress is meeting in defiance of what opposition leaders consider an autocratic push by allies of President Nicolas Maduro to usurp the legislature's powers.

The deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas was among a group of foreign diplomats who attended Saturday's special session to express solidarity with the increasingly cornered lawmakers.

Venezuela's ongoing political standoff took another dramatic turn Friday after the pro-government constitutional assembly approved a decree taking over congress' powers to pass legislation of vital importance to the crisis-wracked nation.

The U.S. government called the move an illegitimate "power grab." Lawmakers from nine mostly Latin American nations meeting in Peru said it consolidates Venezuela's tilt toward "dictatorship."

Lawmakers dismissed the edict and said they won't stop meeting unless they are dissolved by force.