Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged the House to pass a Republican plan that extends the payroll tax cut. But the legislation includes wording to speed up federal approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has become a dividing issue.
The 1,700-mile link would bring oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, but the project has been held up by the State Department due to concerns from environmentalists, who say the pipeline will damage delicate ecosystems and increase pollution associated with burning oil. The GOP plan has now since been criticized for adding that “ideological candy” to the bill, but McConnell says the measure extends the temporary tax relief for workers as well as unemployment benefits.
“So it was surprising to say the least to read this morning that President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid are now plotting to block this very legislation over the inclusion of a job-creating measure that the president thinks will complicate his reelection chances next year. That’s what’s happening in Washington this week—and the American people need to know about it,” he says.
President Obama has pledged to reject any effort to put the oil pipeline and the payroll tax cut together. It is being reported that Mr. Obama is pushing the Democratic-controlled Senate to hold up the budget bill as a response.
According to CNN, the State Department announced it is postponing a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until 2013 to examine the environmental issues.
McConnell says accelerating the project would create jobs and that the Democrats and president are being stubborn to gain political points.
“The Majority Leader signaled yesterday that he and the president are so determined to turn even the most bipartisan job-creating legislation into a political issue that he’ll ask his members to hold off signing the government-funding legislation just to hand the president what they view as a political victory this week. This isn’t just irresponsible, it’s reckless,” he says.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., predicted the bill will pass the Republican-controlled House. The vote is expected later today.