GOP lawmaker suggests trading wage hike for Keystone pipeline

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) suggested Friday he would be willing to support an increase in the minimum wage if Democrats offered job creation programs in return, including approval of the Keystone pipeline.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Cole said he doesn’t think Oklahoma needs a minimum wage hike, and he doesn’t want to make that decision for other states. 

“But would I look at a minimum wage increase if I thought there were other things attached to it that would create jobs like Keystone and additional things? Yeah, I think I would consider that because I think job creation is such an important thing,” Cole said.

“There’s always a potential for compromise,” he added.

The congressman alluded to a Congressional Budget Office report that found a minimum wage hike to $10.10 an hour, proposed by President Obama, would cost about 500,000 jobs.

Republicans, meanwhile, have been urging Obama to approve construction of the northern leg of the Keystone pipeline. The State Department recently announced his decision will be delayed and might not happen until after the midterm elections in November. 

The debate over the minimum wage has been “politicized,” and President Obama has been using it as a “secret weapon,” Cole said. 

“If he was serious, he would put something else on the table that would attract Republican support. So far, he hasn't done it. I think he enjoys the rhetoric of the debate.”

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked legislation promoted by Democrats that would have increased the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. 

The Democrats failed to garner the 60 votes needed to end debate and move onto a vote on the bill, but they promised the bill would be brought back up.

More in Energy & Environment

Clinton comes out against Keystone XL pipeline

Read more »