White House Defends Opposition to Keystone XL Pipeline Bill, Calling it ‘Ineffectual, Sham Legislation

March 8, 2012 - 4:56 PM
KEYSTONE XL

Map shows existing and proposed extension of Keystone XL pipeline

(CNSNews.com) – The White House confirmed Thursday that President Barack Obama personally lobbied Democratic members of Congress to get them to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that is projected to have created about 20,000 direct jobs in the United States, and more jobs indirectly.

The president’s action drew rebuke from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney only confirmed that Obama made the calls. He declined to say who Obama called. Carney, however, said it was important to oppose what he called “ineffectual, sham legislation.”

“We have made our position clear about purely ideological and political efforts to attach legislation regarding the Keystone pipeline to whatever members of Congress fancy at the time,” Carney told reporter. “It is a piece of false advertising that passing legislation and having it made law that keystone ought to be approved is somehow – a.) going to have any impact on the price of gas, which is very high and Americans are unhappy with right now and b.) is responsible policy in any way when there isn’t even a proposed route for the pipeline to travel.”

“We have made these points very clear,” Carney said. “We certainly expect the Congress will, at least we hope, Congress will act in an appropriate fashion and not waste its time on ineffectual, sham legislation that has no impact on the price of gas.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also ridiculed the president’s move in a Senate floor speech.

“There’s a report this morning that President Obama is personally making phone calls to Democrat Senators he thinks might vote for this amendment,” McConnell said. “He’s asking them not to. And, frankly, it’s hard to even comprehend how out of touch he is on this issue.

“I mean, think about it: at a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are skyrocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we’ve got a president who’s up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

Obama has been intervening in a Senate battle over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, lobbying Democrats to ensure that more moderate Democrats do not join Republicans in support of an amendment calling for construction of the pipeline. Politico first reported about Obama’s calls to Democratic lawmakers.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) believes the president owes Americans an explanation.

“This revelation comes days after the White House denied that the president is working to stop the Keystone pipeline from being built, and attempting to blame others for the delay,” Boehner said in a statement.

“Now it also comes a week after the president signaled to me and to Sen. McConnell that he might be willing to work with us on some bipartisan steps forward on energy legislation that the American people support. Now if we’re going to have bipartisan action on energy, the Keystone pipeline is an obvious place to start. The American people support the construction of this pipeline, and they want the project to move forward,” he added.