The House on Wednesday passed a short–term highway funding bill with language attached to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
It’s the fourth time in two years Republicans have passed such a measure to force President Barack Obama to approve the $7 billion project, which supporters say would create 20,000 jobs.
The 90-day transportation extension is also the second passed by the house, and would allow funding to continue uninterrupted until September giving Congress more time to agree on future projects and funding.
The measure passed on a vote of 293 yeas to 127 nays.
“My Democratic colleagues may be well-served to ignore their Occupy Wall Street handlers for a moment and recognize that as gas prices increase it costs more to transport food and other essential goods and services, which lowers the standard of living for all Americans,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
“This is not the kind of change most Americans were expecting or wanting when President Obama promised change. Maybe when he fills up his own tank, he does not appreciate this reality,” Foxx said.
Rep. John Mica (R–Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee suggested that when “you have a chauffeur pick you up in the morning and fill up your gas tank,” one may not be affected by the rising price of gas.
Even if the measure passed the Senate, where similar legislation forcing approval of the pipeline has failed, Obama threatened to veto the bill.
That means Congress is stuck with the June deadline to agree on a long-term highway bill that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and to figure out a way to pay for it.
Democrats said the bill was hijacked by the Keystone language, and argued that if the pipeline were built from Canada to Port Arthur, Texas, it would not reduce the price of gas.
“It’s the worst partisanship I’ve seen in the three years I’ve been here,” said Rep. Jared Polis (D–Colo.).
Rep. Edward Markey (D–Mass.) said the oil product that would be produced from Canada’s oil sands reserves would be the “dirtiest oil in the world,” but then expressed outrage that some of the oil would be exported overseas and wanted the bill amended to ensure that it was all used in the U.S.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D–N.Y.) also argued against the project saying it would “release three times more global warming pollutants” than other oil refined in the U.S.
“The administration wants to be able to complete the normal environmental reviews,” Nadler said.
Mica pointed out that the administration has already spent three years reviewing and studying the project.
“The entire Alaskan pipeline was built in that time,” Mica said. “This pipeline has been studied to death.”
But Rep. Fred Upton (R–Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said American demand for oil is increasing, and the U.S. needs the 800,000 barrels of oil a day the project would provide.
“Americans understand supply and demand,” Upton said.
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