Tags: Barack Obama | Keystone XL Pipeline | veto | threat | republicans

GOP Slams Obama's Keystone Veto Threat: 'Defeat Through Delay'

By    |   Tuesday, 06 January 2015 07:55 PM

Republicans blasted President Barack Obama on Tuesday for threatening to veto the $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline, charging him with pandering to liberal environmentalists instead of passing legislation that has strong bipartisan support in Congress.

"President Obama’s veto threat comes as no surprise," said Sen. John Hoeven, the North Dakota Republican who co-sponsored the legislation. "He has held the Keystone XL pipeline project up for six years with endless bureaucratic delays. His strategy has been defeat through delay."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that "it's interesting to note that the president declined to issue a veto threat last month when a Democrat senator was trying to save her job over the exact same Keystone bill."

The Kentucky Republican, who said that the pipeline bill would be the first piece of legislation taken up by the new GOP-controlled Senate, was referring to embattled Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. She lost a heated runoff election in December to GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy after a failed attempt to get the project approved.

Cassidy, who sponsored the House version of the Keystone bill that is expected to be approved on Friday, trounced Landrieu in the runoff to extend the GOP's control of the Senate to 54 seats.

While Obama had been more critical of the pipeline in recent months, he never issued a veto threat during the Louisiana runoff.

Landrieu lost the Keystone vote by a single vote in November, when Democrats had controlled the upper chamber. She had been in the Senate for 18 years.

"Once again, the president is standing in the way of a shovel-ready jobs project that would help thousands of Americans find work," McConnell said.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson attacked Obama for making his decision before the Senate has the chance to vote on it.

"This is an issue on which the Senate has found bipartisan agreement, so it is dismaying to see the president already obstructing this effort by Congress to cooperate on a proposal the American people broadly support," he said.

For the first time since the Keystone pipeline was proposed in 2008, the White House said on Tuesday that Obama would reject it. The bill is the first piece of legislation introduced in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The announcement came within hours after the bill was introduced, sponsored by all 54 Republicans and six Democrats. The move set up what is expected to be many clashes between the White House and Republicans over energy issues in the last two years of Obama's term.

"There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest said that legislation should not impede the review process underway by the State Department or circumvent a lawsuit still pending in Nebraska over the pipeline's route.

The State Department said in March, however, that the project would cause no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed route. A draft report said that other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change.

Proposed by TransCanada Corp., the pipeline would span 1,179 miles and travel through Montana and South Dakota. In Nebraska, the project would connect with existing pipelines and carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to Texas refineries.

Republicans have long argued that Keystone would create 42,000 jobs and would increase of the nation's GDP by $3 billion.

Hoeven called Obama's veto threat "unfortunate, because the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved on its merits. It’s about energy, jobs, economic growth and national security.

"Instead of a veto threat, the president should be joining with Congress on a bipartisan basis to approve the project for the American people, rather than blocking it on behalf of special-interest groups," he said.

The bill's Democratic co-sponsor, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, said that he was "disappointed" by Obama's decision.

"His decision to veto such a commonsense bill prior to the unfolding of regular congressional order and the offering of amendments appears premature and does little to mitigate the congressional gridlock," he said. "It is time that we address the critical issues of moving America toward energy independence and fostering job growth and economic prosperity."

But Republicans — from both houses of Congress — bitterly attacked the president.

"President Obama’s hollow promise of working together with the new Republican-led House and Senate lasted a total of one hour into the 114th Congress," charged Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar. "It took approximately 60 minutes for the president to issue a veto threat on the overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation that would finally pave the way for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

"This veto threat squanders a realistic opportunity to bring Republicans and Democrats together and compromise on legislation that has the support of the vast majority of Americans," Gosar added. "Instead, President Obama continues to pander to the extremist environmental wing of his party instead of focusing on fostering a positive environment for job creation and economic growth."

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the veto threat proved that Obama "doesn't want to make a decision" on the project.

"He is listening to his left-wing base," he told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "A lot of folks in the extreme environmental community have his ear on this issue — and it’s unfortunate because it’s going to stand in the way, really, of getting something I think the majority of Americans want, and something for which there is bipartisan support here in Congress."

Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican, said that "by standing in the way, the president will not stop Canada from extracting the oil, which it will ship by other means to the United States and around the globe.

"This veto prevents Congress from helping Americans lower their energy costs and reduce dependence on oil from unfriendly sources."

In Louisiana, GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal accused Obama and the Democrats of making "a religion out of opposing sensible energy policies.

"Approving this project should be a no-brainer," said Jindal, who is weighing a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. "It’s safe and it will create thousands of jobs. Government should get out of the way of job creation.

"It is becoming clearer every day that the Obama administration is being held hostage by the radical left," the governor added. "I hope the new Republican Congress sends President Obama this bill as soon as possible and forces him to do the right thing."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Republicans blasted President Barack Obama on Tuesday for threatening to veto the $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline, charging him with pandering to liberal environmentalists instead of passing legislation that has strong bipartisan support in Congress.
veto, threat, republicans
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 07:55 PM
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