The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is playing hardball with President Obama’s proposal to extend a payroll tax cut extension, and now they’ve found a way to use the extension as a means to grant their polluter friends everything on their holiday wish list.
According to Reuters , Republicans in the House added the approval of the recently-killed (albeit temporarily) Keystone XL Pipeline to the payroll tax cut extension bill, granting the project immediate approval if the rider stays connected to the bill. From Reuters, via Raw Story :
House of Representatives will include approval of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline in a payroll tax cut bill, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday, raising the political stakes on the issue.
The move by House Republicans marked a challenge to President Barack Obama, who has warned he would veto any bill that linked quick approval of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline to extending a tax cut for American workers that is due to expire on December 31.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) quickly denounced the House GOP effort, making clear that it will not survive the Senate .
The ill-fated measure was sponsored by Republican Lee Terry of Nebraska, who has taken in  more than $273,000 from electric utilities and $225,000 from the oil and gas industries over the course of his career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Terry claims that he did this in order to help create the estimated “20,000 new jobs” that the pipeline would bring to America.
If Terry was so concerned about creating jobs, then he would pressure his fellow Republican House members to back off their attempts to strip the EPA of their ability to regulate air pollution, which would create more than 1.5 million  U.S. jobs.
And speaking of enforcing air pollution standards, the Republicans decided to go all out and add that restriction to their new bill, as well. They also included a rider that would prevent the EPA from being able to enforce air pollution standards on boiler emissions. The Republican-controlled House has worked on that breath-defying measure for quite a while .
The likelihood of these provisions clearing the Democrat-controlled Senate are slim to none, but it could still happen - anything is possible in the U.S. Congress in these whacky times. And with the President emphasizing the dire need to pass the tax cut extension, these common sense environmental and public health protections might become a casualty in the ongoing party war taking place in America.
On a related note, don't miss Bill McKibben's piece over at Politico: “The (bogus) number that won't die,”  all about the sham of the Keystone XL proponents' “20,000 jobs” statistic. Hint: It's a total fabrication.
For some Friday fun, watch Bill McKibben on the Colbert Report last month, when Stephen Colbert mocks the insane jobs figures tossed around by polluter pundits.