Cornyn: Obama Using Texas As an ATM, One Day After Lobbying Against Pipeline Extension to Texas

By Susan Jones | March 9, 2012 | 9:40am EST

( - “Barely 24 hours after maneuvering behind the scenes to defeat the Keystone pipeline and the Gulf Coast jobs that come with it, the president again will use Texas to replenish his campaign coffers," Sen. John Cornyn complained on Friday.

President Barack Obama is speaking about the economy Friday in Virginia, then flying to Texas to raise funds for his presidential campaign.

"Texans deserve a Commander-in-Chief whose primary concern is creating more jobs for them, not using our state as an ATM to protect his own.”

Cornyn was among 45 Republican senators who voted on Thursday in favor of an amendment approving the Keystone XL pipeline and allowing construction to begin without President Obama's input.

The final vote was 56-42. Two Republicans were not present for the vote; and eleven Democrats voted with Republicans, despite President Obama's phone calls on Thursday to muster Democratic opposition to the bill.

"When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statment after the Keystone amendment fell short of the 60 votes needed for passage.

McConnell accused Democrats of turning their backs on both energy independence and the creation of thousands of private-sector jobs.

"At a moment when tensions are rising in the Middle East, millions of Americans are struggling to find work and millions more are struggling with the rising cost of gas, Democrat opposition to this legislation shows how deeply out of touch they are with the concerns of middle-class Americans. President Obama’s personal pleas to wavering Senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation."

House Speaker John Boehner also criticized Obama for his "personal lobbying" against the pipeline extension: "I think the White House owes the American people an explanation. The president said this week that he wants to see lower prices at the pump – at least in an election year.  But his own policies are making matters worse and driving up the cost of energy.  

“But by ‘personally lobbying’ against the Keystone pipeline, it means the president of the United States is lobbying for sending North American energy to China, and lobbying against American jobs. So the president told the nation he supports an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that Republicans have long supported.  But his actions don’t match his words," Boehner said.

In January, Obama blocked a permit for the Keystone pipeline, apparently bowing to pressure from environmentalists who oppose it.

“This is ridiculous," Sen. Orrin Hatch said on Thursday after learning that the president was working the phones to once again block Keystone construction. "With price of gas soaring, the President blasts anyone who criticizes his lack of an energy strategy, but then he’s lobbying to stop a common-sense amendment allowing Keystone XL pipeline to move forward. The president should stop lobbying against it and get behind this critical job-creating pipeline,” said Hatch.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that Obama called senators on Thursday, but did not identify them.

"The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed," Carney said.

The U.S. State Department spent three years studying TransCanada’s application for a permit to extend its oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas.

The State Department was expected to make a decision by the end of 2011, but in November – suddenly citing objections from the State of Nebraska -- Obama announced a delay, citing the need to study alternative routes. That punted a decision on the project until 2013 – after the 2012 election.

House Republicans then set a new deadline of Feb. 21 for the Obama administration to issue a permit for the Keystone XL project. And in January, Obama denied a permit for extending the Keystone pipeline, blaming Republicans for forcing his hand.

After Thursday's vote in the Senate, the author of the Keystone amendment -- Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) -- said the fight isn't over:

“This vote provides good momentum for our legislation. We’ll continue working not only in the Senate, but also with our colleagues in the U.S House, where we have a good opportunity to include this amendment in their version of the Highway bill.

“After three years of study, it’s time to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline," Hoeven continued: "This $7 billion, 1,700-mile, high-tech transcontinental pipeline is a big-time private-sector job creator. It’s a shovel-ready project that would reduce our dependence on Middle East oil, and help to lower rising fuel costs.”

MRC Store