By Russell Berman - 01/29/12 03:50 PM EST
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that legislation advancing the Keystone pipeline would be part of a major House Republican infrastructure and energy bill if it is not enacted before that bill comes to a vote.
The Obama administration has rejected approval of the oil sands pipeline over GOP objections, and Republican leaders have identified it as a top job-creating priority.
House GOP leaders are preparing to release a top Boehner priority: Legislation that would generate revenue for improving the nation’s aging infrastructure through expanding domestic energy production.
Some Republicans also want the Keystone pipeline to be part of a final deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Democratic leaders oppose its inclusion, and a Boehner spokesman said that would be decided by members of the House-Senate conference committee.
On the payroll tax, Boehner said he was “confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly.” The tax cut and unemployment benefits expire at the end of February.
The speaker criticized President Obama’s State of the Union address on the same program, saying Obama “doubled down on the same failed policies that have not worked.”
He accused the president of using “the politics of dividing America.” “This is not the American way,” Boehner said.
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the architect of the House GOP budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), offered a similar message. He said Republicans would pass a budget again in 2012 and would stick by their proposals to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, which Democrats have targeted. “We’re not backing away from any of our ideas,” Ryan said.
Sandwiched in between a mountain of criticism of the president’s policies, Boehner did say Obama has “an awful lot of good ideas” when it comes to boosting jobs through domestic manufacturing incentives.
The speaker declined, as he has before, to weigh in on the GOP presidential race. But he appeared to choke up when reflecting on the emotional resignation of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) on the House floor on Wednesday. “I’ve never quite seen a farewell in the House like that,” Boehner said. He lauded Giffords and called her resignation “a sad day for the House.”