Keystone XL Pipeline Act—Motion to Proceedby Senator Daniel Coats
Posted on 2015-01-12
COATS. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. COATS. Madam President, here we are at the beginning of a new year and a new Congress, and I think we all feel a responsibility to do what the American people voted for in the November 2014 election, which is to come together in this body and in this Congress and work together to find sensible solutions to the very real problems facing Americans.
[[Page S141]] It is no secret that the last 6 years have been pretty tough for a lot of people who are out of work or doing part-time work; kids graduating from high school, graduating from college, graduating from community schools, 2-year schools; going back and getting new training and still unable to find meaningful jobs; finding jobs that are part time, two or three of those together; parents trying to save money, pay the mortgage, save money to send the kids to postgraduate school. It has not been easy. So we have come to a point where we have legislation in a new session of Congress, with commitments on a bipartisan basis to stand together, to work together, to try to find solutions, to get people back to work and get our economy moving again. Now we come to the very first issue up for discussion and debate and hopefully passage in this new Congress--the Keystone Pipeline.
This is an issue that has been going on for 6 years. The President has been obstinate in his obstruction in letting this go forward, in making a decision. Yet here we are, finally, with an opportunity to not only pass legislation which has passed the House of Representatives, again, just last week with very significant bipartisan support--but now in the Senate to take up this legislation and to move it forward tonight with this vote, to start the process to allow amendments, to allow debate, and to move forward and hopefully enjoy bipartisan support with over 60 votes and then move it to final passage and then send it to the President for, hopefully, signing.
This project is the largest, ready-to-build infrastructure project in the United States. It supports tens of thousands of jobs. The estimate has been well over 42,000. It invests billions of dollars in the American economy. It increases revenue to States and local governments, all without spending one dime of taxpayer money. This is a private sector initiative that can be of great benefit to our country. It can provide meaningful jobs and has many benefits for us in the future.
It is supported by Democrats, by Republicans, and by a number of labor unions. For instance, the Indiana State Building and Construction Trade Council, which represents 75,000 working Hoosiers in my State, reached out to me recently and asked me to support construction of the Keystone Pipeline, calling it ``an important job creation and energy security issue.'' They are right on the mark. They know I have been a longtime supporter of this effort, but they wanted to put it in writing. I am not sure it was necessary, and they weren't weighing this on the basis of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative; they were saying that this is good for us and we hope all of our Senators can support it. We hope it passes. This is an initiative that puts our people to work. Other labor unions, including the North America's Building Trade Unions and the Laborers' International Union of North America support this project.
I mentioned the President, for 6 years, has come up with more feeble excuses in terms of why he believes this should not go forward. The last excuse was: We are in a process here and the process has to go forward. That process was waiting, apparently, on the Nebraska Supreme Court approval of the pipeline route through Nebraska, and that was his excuse for why he would have to veto it. I am sure my colleagues now have the word that the Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld State approval of the Keystone Pipeline. In fact, the President's own State Department, in response to numerous calls for environmental studies-- all of which were used as an excuse for not going forward--the President's own State Department has repeatedly approved this, saying it will not have a negative environmental imprint.
So what could possibly be the reason the President remains intransigent on this particular issue, because every other box has been checked? We have to come down to the inevitable conclusion that it is all political, that an extreme environmental wing of the President's own party is simply putting untold pressure on him to not go forward with anything having to do with fossil fuels or providing energy security for America from our own resources. After all, a significant portion comes from Montana and North Dakota--and the last time I checked they are in the United States--and from our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada. If this doesn't go through, we will keep importing large quantities of oil from the Middle East. We know what complications there are in terms of securing that oil and how much volatility occurs there based on what is happening today in the Middle East.
So getting this product from our Northern States of North Dakota and Montana and getting this product from our friend to the north, Canada, simply makes a great deal of sense in terms of our energy security, our energy supplies, and lessening our reliance on the volatility that comes from getting oil from other sources.
To conclude, let me just make it clear what it is we are trying to do. This will help the United States diversify its energy supply. It will offset our dependence on Middle East oil. It will support tens of thousands of American jobs in construction. It will invest billions of dollars in the American economy. It will increase revenue to State and local governments. It will not harm our environment, as numerous studies have indicated--all these benefits without spending a dime of taxpayer money.
So after 6 years of delay, procrastination, and evermore feeble excuses, it is time for the President to make a decision. Soon he will have an opportunity to use that pen he so famously talked about not to sign a veto or to declare a veto but to sign a bill approving the Keystone Pipeline into law.
I strongly support construction of this pipeline and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator withhold his request? Mr. COATS. I certainly will. I didn't see my colleague. I am happy to do so.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.