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Landrieu-CorpsofEngin 2ndLd-Writethru 04-03

10. Louisiana

Senators block nominee

Two Louisiana senators said Tuesday they have blocked Senate confirmation of the nominee to head the Army Corps of Engineers to allow time for debate on his role in rebuilding hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she had placed a "procedural hold" on the nomination process for Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp Jr. Another Louisiana politician, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., also said he quietly placed a hold on the nomination weeks ago to allow time for more investigation.

Van Antwerp’s credentials are not in question, Landrieu said in a statement, but she wants to determine if Antwerp will be "the partner we need for the recovery and protection of our region, or will he be the agent of a failed status quo?"’

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The corps has come under criticism for installing drainage pumps to protect New Orleans in spite of apparent deficiencies. Landrieu has asked the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative and auditing arm, to investigate if there was improper influence in the way the pumps contract was awarded and handled. She also wants to know what danger the pumps posed to New Orleans, and the Corps’ rationale for installing them. The Corps has said it decided to install the pumps, and then fix the machinery while it was in place, believing that some pumping capacity was better than none.

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