White House issues veto threat for House transportation bill

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a wide-ranging transportation package from House Republicans.

The administration raised concerns about a provision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and argued the legislations funding for roads and bridges is inadequate.

“The Administration has serious concerns with provisions in the bill that would make America’s roads, rails, and transit systems less safe, reduce the transportation options available to America’s traveling public, short circuit local decision-making, and turn back the clock on environmental and labor protections,” the White House said in a formal statement of administration policy.

The House will begin debate on the $260 billion transportation package this week. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said earlier Tuesday that lawmakers will debate three separate bills that make up the massive 979-page legislation.

{mosads}In the statement, the White House said the president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto the transportation package because “this bill jeopardizes safety, weakens environmental and labor protections, and fails to make the investments needed to strengthen the Nation’s roads, bridges, rail, and transit systems.”

The White House took aim at energy provisions in the package that would help fund transportation and infrastructure programs with revenues from expanded offshore oil-and-gas leasing and opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

“[T]he bill includes pay-fors that open up pristine natural habitats not suitable for resource extraction and undermine prudent development of the Nation’s oil and natural gas resources,” the White House stated, noting that the administration is supportive of “safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production.”

In addition, the White House criticized the bill for a provision aimed at approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Obama rejected the pipeline last month, arguing that a 60-day deadline imposed in a two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut didn’t give the administration enough time to adequately review the project.

“[T[his bill seeks to circumvent a longstanding process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by mandating the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline project despite the fact that the pipeline route has yet to be identified and there is no complete assessment of its potential impacts, including impacts on health and safety, the economy, foreign policy, energy security, and the environment,” the White House stated.

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