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GOP to Force Obama’s Hand on Keystone

Obama says he wants to talk about jobs? Senate Republicans are more than happy to oblige him:

A bill introduced Wednesday by 37 GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, would require the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days, unless the president declares the project is not in the national interest.…

McConnell (R-Ky.), called the $7 billion pipeline the ultimate “shovel-ready” project and said it could create as many as 20,000 jobs.

He and other Republicans called Obama’s decision to delay the project transparently political and said Obama had put his reelection above job creation.

If you remember, the State Department recently was supposed to decide whether or not the Keystone XL was in the national interest, but the administration decided to postpone this until after 2012, seemingly because the issue was politically sensitive.

Now Senate Republicans are trying to force Senate Democrats to choose between the job-creating pipeline (which has union backing) and supporting the president’s decision. For Democrats in the states where Keystone XL would add jobs, the choice will obviously be difficult. So far, no Democrats have publicly come out in support of the GOP bill, but several have expressed support for expediting the State Department’s decision-making process.

Republicans also seem to be hoping the bill will hold the president accountable for his job-creation rhetoric. Sen. McConnell said in a floor speech this morning:

“Here’s the bottom line: the president has said time and again that his top priority is jobs. Yet here we’ve got the single largest shovel-ready project in the country, ready to go, and he’s delaying its approval until after the election. He’s saying he doesn’t care so much about jobs in states like Nebraska that he doesn’t think he’ll carry next year so he can keep the enthusiasm up in states he hopes to carry. So I think it’s pretty clear the president cares less about this particular boon for job creation than in his own job preservation. And it’s wrong.”

Obama will have to explain how he reconciles the Keystone XL delay with his efforts to curb unemployment.


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