Sen. Hatch calls Obama ‘scaredy cat'

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) accused President Obama of acting like a “scaredy cat” on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and says he’s getting “pushed around” by environmentalists.

“All we need is a president who will step up and start to lead and quit acting like some scaredy cat hiding in some closet in the White House,” Hatch said in an interview Friday on Fox News. Hatch then said perhaps he should not have made the comment, but added, “That’s what I feel like.”

Hatch and other Republicans want to tether an extension of the payroll tax cut, a White House priority, to provisions that would expedite a federal decision on the proposed pipeline.

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“My gosh, it makes sense, it is a shovel-ready project, ready to go right now, the pipes are already bought, it just has to be done,” said Hatch, who argued it would create thousands of jobs. 

The Obama administration opposes GOP efforts to force a decision within 60 days on the pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. The administration has delayed a decision on the controversial project until after the 2012 election.

The House this week approved a payroll tax bill with the pipeline provision, but it faces a steep climb in the Senate and White House opposition.

Green groups bitterly oppose the Keystone project over greenhouse gas emissions and other concerns. But a number of unions, citing jobs, have joined many Republicans, major business groups and centrist Democrats backing it.

Hatch, in the Fox interview, praised Obama after the “scaredy cat” dig, calling him charming and bright, but then alleged that “he doesn’t lead.”

“He gets pushed around by one or the other huge factions in the Democratic Party; in this case it is the environmental extremists,” said Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.