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Landrieu Offers Rebuttal to Rubio, Cassidy on Venezuela

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has responded forcefully to criticism of her blockade of sanctions against Venezuela.  

In an opinion piece for Friday's edition of The Advertiser in Lafayette, the Energy and Natural Resources chairwoman and Louisiana Democrat said that sanctions for human rights violations by the government of President Nicolás Maduro shouldn't be configured to cost jobs in her home state.  

"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," wrote Landrieu. "This substantial payroll in our state has bought hundreds of homes, sent thousands of kids to college and contributed mightily to southwest Louisiana’s economy."  

Landrieu blocked an effort to advance the sanctions measure by unanimous consent just before the start of August recess without a change to address the operation of the Citgo refinery. Citgo is Venezuela's state-run oil company.  

Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running against Landrieu this fall in a key Senate race, had joined with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in blasting Landrieu for opposing the quick advancement of the sanctions measure as currently drafted. In response, Landrieu is seeking to demonstrate a contrast on priorities.  

"There is no question that America should use our power and influence to expand freedom and promote democracy where we can. However, it should not have to be done at the expense of 2,000 men and women who are employed at the Citgo refinery. This will not be the only disagreement Bill Cassidy and I have, but that’s what elections are for," Landrieu wrote.  

Her opinion piece comes after Rubio called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to effectively bypass Landrieu to advance the sanctions legislation.  

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