"As the gentleman knows, organized labor in this country is very supportive of that bill," Cantor said of the oil pipeline language. "It means immediate jobs. The president continues to say he is for creating jobs, doing all we can to get American back to work. This is a provision that allows for that.
"Knowing that there is strong bipartisan support for the project, knowing that labor is in support of it, knowing that it puts people back to work immediately, it would seem to me that this is a consistent provision to go along with making sure that we deal with the unemployment situation in this country," Cantor added.
Hoyer tried unsuccessfully to convince Cantor to drop the Keystone language, by arguing that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised to deal with bills "one issue at a time," not by putting riders on must-pass bills.
"It seems inconsistent when the president of the United States yesterday said he would veto such a provision that we would include it in legislation that is 'must-pass,' " Hoyer said.
Hoyer also noted press reports that said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) supports the GOP proposal in particular because Obama opposes it.
"It seems to me that if you're serious … that we not include in that bill an item that apparently is popular on your side just because the president doesn't like it, according to Mr. Jordan," Hoyer said.