The House bill that passed Tuesday would give State Department 60 days to issue a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline, unless President Obama determines that it’s not on the national interest.
But the wider House package also included a number of provisions that pro-pipeline Democrats found objectionable.
Here’s Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), a pipeline backer that nonetheless voted with his party against the House GOP bill Tuesday, citing what he called inadequate unemployment insurance provisions.
“Although I strongly support extending tax cuts for the middle-class and the Keystone XL Pipeline, after careful consideration, I was unable to vote in favor of this bill because of provisions that would be devastating to my constituents and our nation,” he said in a statement after the vote.
“Drastically cutting back on the number of weeks that unemployment benefits can be received when we have 8.5% unemployment is like being the Grinch who stole Christmas. If we want to cut the deficit, we need to get people back to work, not cut unemployment benefits,” he said.
Extending the payroll tax cut is a priority for the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats, but they’re balking at several provisions the GOP has included.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has warned that the Keystone provision is a non-starter in the Senate, and the House bill also faces a White House veto threat.
The Obama administration last month delayed a federal decision on the pipeline until 2013. Environmentalists bitterly oppose the project due to greenhouse gas emissions and other concerns.
Major business groups and a number of unions back the project, calling it a way to boost energy security and create jobs.