Politics & Government

Louisiana’s Landrieu defends decision to hold up Venezuelan sanctions bill over Citgo concern

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), May 13, 2014, in Washington. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), May 13, 2014, in Washington. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT) MCT

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, fired back at Marco Rubio and Bill Cassidy over the claim that she essentially became a conduit for a recent attempt by the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro “to influence our legislative process.”

The issue is a sanctions bill now in Congress that would target the individuals in Venezuela responsible for the often-violent crackdown this year on political protest. Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, is pushing the legislation; Cassidy, a Republican House member from Louisiana, is challenging Landrieu in a tight Senate race.

Just this week, Rubio – in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada – said the Maduro regime had worked its way into the U.S. political process: “Even though the legislation would have targeted individuals only and posed no threat to American jobs or Venezuelan firms, a Venezuelan government-controlled oil company with operations in the U.S. succeeded in convincing a member of the Senate’s Democratic majority to block the bill’s passage.”

In a recent opinion article in a Louisiana newspaper, Rubio and Cassidy singled out Landrieu by name for stopping the sanctions, saying Maduro’s regime succeeded in finding a senator to block them: Mary Landrieu.”

Not so fast, says the Louisiana senator in her own article: “For 70 years, thousands of Louisianians have gone to work at the nation’s sixth largest oil refinery in Lake Charles, owned by Citgo, a Venezuelan company with a strong and respected reputation in Louisiana… In July, a sanctions bill to punish the Venezuelan government for human rights violations was being fast tracked toward passage in the Senate, and I stopped it. I believe that the legislation as written was too vague and would jeopardize 2,000-plus jobs in this region and put the Lake Charles Citgo refinery at risk.”

She went on to take a shot at Cassidy’s leadership and to say that while she supports “the goals of clamping down on human rights violations, I believe that it doesn't have to be done at the expense of this strong economic engine. That’s why I stopped the resolution and will continue to oppose it unless the language of this resolution makes crystal clear that there will be no threat to the refinery.”