Congressional Republicans, starting with House Speaker John Boehner, clearly want to exploit disagreement on the left over the controversial Keystone XL project to help force President Obama to reverse course and give the proposed transnational pipeline a quick go-ahead.
Obama last month announced that his administration would put off, until 2013, a decision to approve the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
The president delayed action on the pipeline after the independent State Department inspector general launched an investigation of possible conflicts of interest in the project’s environmental review process.
(You can read a complete explainer of the Keystone XL pipeline, and its controversies, online here.)
Republicans began howling over the delay almost immediately, with GOP lawmakers in both the House and Senate introducing bills to force Obama to approve the Keystone KL pipeline before the inspector general probe is complete. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a key opponent of the pipeline project, called such legislation to short circuit the review “completely inappropriate.”
While the Keystone project has sparked great outrage among many on the left, drawing thousands of demonstrators to the White House to oppose any approval of the pipeline, that opposition isn’t universal, however.
Organized labor has consistently supported approval of the pipeline for the jobs it would create. One union leader, for instance, called Obama’s decision to delay action on the pipeline based on “political expediency, rather than a decision based on facts and the national interest.”
Republicans want to use that discord to their advantage to push the pipeline to approval.
Boehner’s office published a blog post titled, “Labor Unions Blast White House Delay of Job-Creating Keystone XL Project, House GOP Plans Action.”
Although organized labor typically has been a stalwart ally of Obama’s, and of Democrats generally, several union representatives complained about the delay of the Keystone XL project at a Republican-led House hearing on the matter.
Boehner has used the pipeline delay to swipe at Obama’s push to create jobs.
“President Obama says ‘we can’t wait’ to act on jobs, and yet that’s exactly what his decision on the Keystone energy project has out-of-work Americans doing: waiting,” the speaker says. “That’s unacceptable. The American people have already waited years for President Obama and Washington Democrats to deliver on their promise of economic growth and job creation, to no avail.”
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.