Republican Senators Demand Biden Place Oil Sanctions on Venezuela

A group of Senate Republican leaders are urging President Biden to block oil sanctions relief for the Venezuelan government.

In a letter sent to the president last week, the group, led by Sen. Dan Sullivan, (R-AK),  argued that Venezuela’s government has failed to meet key requirements related to ensuring fair elections that it agreed to when the Biden administration issued General License 44 last year.

“History has proven time and time again that appeasing dictators does not work. We strongly urge you to reinstate and fully enforce all U.S. sanctions on the [Nicolás] Maduro regime,” they wrote. “We must not cede American leverage by lifting U.S. sanctions while the Maduro government deliberately disregards its obligations.”

“If the U.S. fails to take a credible stance on ensuring free and fair elections are held in Venezuela, the prospects of a democratic Venezuela will continue to diminish, which will further embolden authoritarian aggressors such as the People’s Republic of China, Iran, and Russia,” the lawmakers continued.

Report from Fox News:

In October, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed an agreement with the nation’s opposition leaders, agreeing to freer elections as part of a deal in which the U.S. Treasury Department eased sanctions on the South American country’s key oil sector. 

However, the Maduro regime almost immediately began taking actions in apparent violation of the deal, cracking down on the opposition and imprisoning political opponents ahead of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election slated for July 2024. The State Department said in October it would not renew the General License 44 absent progress by the Venezuelan government.

The October agreement broadly authorized oil and gas transactions with Venezuela and came a year after the Biden administration granted a separate license for California-based energy firm Chevron to continue drilling in Venezuela. According to federal data, U.S. oil imports from Venezuela have spiked from zero barrels in December 2022 to nearly 5 million barrels in January.