Dem lawmaker says 20,000 Keystone XL jobs 'not that many'

“Twenty thousand jobs is really not that many jobs, and investing in green technologies will produce that and more,” she said on Chicago’s WLS Radio Don Wade and Roma Show on Wednesday morning. “But I’ll tell you what, you know it seems to me that the Republicans would rather have an issue than a pipeline.”

Schakowsky contacted The Hill on Thursday to clarify that she supports job creation but thinks it ought to be done on a larger scale.

"We need to be talking about millions of jobs and that’s what the American Job Act does," she said, speaking of the latest iteration of President Obama's job plan, presented at the State of the Union on Tuesday. "[W]e have to be thinking big."

Coats, a vocal proponent of the Keystone project, which would transport oil from Alberta, Canada, to America’s Gulf Coast, swiftly responded in a separate interview on the same show later on Wednesday morning, suggesting Schakowsky has spoken insensitively.

“Tell that to the 20,000 people that woke up this morning and didn’t have a job to go to,” said Coats. “ ‘Well, these don’t really matter’ — I mean, this not only is jobs, this is less dependence on Middle East oil.”

“And here we have, you know, the president talking about becoming energy independent, but he turns down the easiest way to do that,” the freshman senator continued.

President Obama has frustrated Republicans by standing by his decision to delay construction of the proposed pipeline while studies of its environmental impact are completed.

Schakowsky also told The Hill  on Thursday that she believes Congress should focus primarily on creating government jobs "in order" to jump-start the economy. As such she authored legislation last summer that would create 2.2 million government jobs.

"I am all for private sector jobs but there are a few ways to stimulate the economy," she told The Hill. "Lets help grow the economy, put people to work so they can actually go out and spend some money."

This story was updated on Thursday to reflect  comments Shakowsky's made to The Hill.