South Dakota Sen. John Thune says he and his fellow Republicans are willing to work with President Barack Obama to pass legislation both parties can agree on, but he's cautious about expecting anything from the White House.
"We're going to find out very early on whether the president wants to play ball," Thune said on "Fox News Sunday." "Based on our past experience it would be the triumph of hope over experience, but you always enter a new session of Congress with high hopes."
Republicans will be in control of both houses of Congress starting this month, and Thune said the plans are to go straight to approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has strong support from both parties.
The pipeline has languished under Obama despite his own State Department saying it will not have a significant environmental impact and will provide 42,000 jobs during the construction phase.
Republicans still have only 54 seats in the Senate and would need 67 votes in their chamber to override a veto.
"It's going to be up to a lot of those Democrats who have expressed support for this in the past as to whether or not now that it really matters – it's more than just a symbolic vote – whether not they're going to be there," Thune said.
Obama will show he is listening to his left-wing base if he vetoes a Keystone bill, he added.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and other Republicans have suggested a 12-cent-per-gallon hike in gas taxes for the Highway Trust Fund, which will be $100 billion in the hole when the current transportation bill expires in May. Thune said he typically doesn't favor increasing any tax, but said he is willing to explore all options.
Corker, who also appeared on the show Sunday, said his plan would be offset by other factors and would, therefore, be revenue neutral.
Corker and Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, introduced the plan in June, but The New York Times reported
this weekend that even with gas now below $2.50 a gallon, the plan is finding little support.
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