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John B.
Republican WY

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  • Keystone XL Pipeline

    by Senator John Barrasso

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    BARRASSO. First let me thank and congratulate the Senator from North Dakota for his dogged determination in fighting for these American jobs and for energy security for our country. I am so grateful for his hard work. He has really been tenacious in this fight to get this bill past the Senate and to the President's desk.

    I also congratulate my friend and colleague from Montana. Last fall the American people elected 12 new Republican Senators to work in this body, and he is one of them. I have had the opportunity to travel with him in Montana. He has a great background. He is innovative, and he is energetic. He is going to do a tremendous job not only for his State and the Rocky Mountain West but for the entire United States as a Member of the Senate. He just took his oath yesterday. We were able to hear from him today, and he is going to be a remarkable addition to this body.

    I know that all of these dozen new Republican Senators are as eager as the rest of us in the new Republican majority to start fulfilling our obligation to the people we represent. Americans elected a Republican Congress because they wanted a change. They wanted to change the direction that President Obama and Democrats have taken the country.

    Under the Democratic leadership over the past several years, the Senate was a place of dysfunction and gridlock. More than 40 jobs bills passed by the House of Representatives in the last Congress never even came up for a vote in the Senate. Many of those bills had overwhelming bipartisan support, just like this one we are debating today. Those days are over. That is a completely unacceptable way to run the Senate.

    All of us here in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, have been given an opportunity to work together and to get things done. That is what the American people told us on election day, that is what they are expecting from us, and I believe that is what they are demanding of us.

    The poster child for the gridlock and dysfunction of Washington has been the Keystone XL Pipeline. For more than 6 years it has been a symbol of out-of-control Washington bureaucracy. The State Department has absolutely refused to do its job and to make any kind of decision on the pipeline's application.

    The Keystone XL Pipeline has also been a symbol of gridlock in the Senate. A small group of extreme environmentalists with deep pockets has bullied Democratic Members of the Senate to block a bill that would move this important jobs project further.

    According to the latest figures, America's labor force participation rate is woefully low; it is just 62.8 percent. Are Democrats in this body satisfied with that number? Is the President of the United States, President Barack Obama, satisfied with this pathetic participation in America's labor force? I can say that people in my State, Republicans all across the country--they are not satisfied. That is why we are determined to push job-creating legislation such as this Hoeven bill to advance the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    The President said there is no benefit to this important infrastructure project. During a press conference last month, President Obama actually claimed that the project is ``not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers.'' Apparently, that is what the President believes. Well, he is wrong. Just ask the Obama administration's own State Department. It says the pipeline would support more than 42,000 jobs. Some of those are construction jobs. Some of them are in the transportation field and the manufacturing field. It includes jobs at warehouses, restaurants, and motels along the route. Does President Obama think that a good job is not even a ``nominal benefit'' to the Americans who could get those 42,000 jobs from this pipeline? According to the Congressional Research Service, there are already 19 pipelines operating across U.S. borders. Why is this the one that suddenly offers not even a nominal benefit, according to President Obama? Why does President Obama refuse to make a decision about whether to approve the pipeline? Well, the President has taken a position on this bipartisan bill--according to the White House Press Secretary on Tuesday, the President will not sign this bill once Congress passes it.

    The State Department has done one study after another showing that the pipeline would create jobs and that it would have no significant environmental impact. President Obama has been downplaying those benefits and threatening to veto the bill. That is not Presidential leadership.

    Now Republicans are going to show the leadership that the American people have been asking for and that they voted for last November. We are going to bring a bill to the floor and force the President to finally do something by putting it on the President's desk.

    Democrats have been playing politics with this pipeline bill. The Republican majority will now get it done. We are going to allow a vote on this project. We are going to allow Senators to offer amendments. What a unique situation in the Senate. We are going to let everyone say which side they are on. This will be a bellwether decision. Are Members of the Senate in favor of 42,000 jobs for American workers or are they in favor of more Washington delay? Democrats will have a chance to make their arguments. The extreme opponents of this project will make misleading claims to try to discount the pipeline's benefits, and they will try to stoke people's fears. We have seen it all before.

    At the end of the day, here is what this all comes down to--four things: No. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline will support more than 42,000 jobs in the United States.

    No. 2, it will be a private investment of $8 billion--not taxpayer spending, private spending.

    No. 3, it will have minimal effect on the environment.

    No. 4, the pipeline is actually safer than other methods of getting that oil to market.

    Congress should approve this pipeline and pass this bill and the President should sign it.

    The Keystone XL Pipeline is a job creator. It has bipartisan support. It has been stuck in Washington's bureaucratic gridlock.

    It is interesting. When I listen to and think of the President and his comments about jobs and what the impact is going to be, it makes me think of what the president of the Laborers' International Union of North America said in the summer 1 year ago. He was scheduled to testify today at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing--a hearing that now the minority, the Democratic acting leader, Senator Durbin, objected to having yesterday. He objected to just a hearing and a discussion.

    It is interesting. There was a press release from the president of the union, [[Page S44]] who was quoted on the subject of the economic benefits associated with the construction of the pipeline. Terry O'Sullivan said: The President [President Obama] seems to dismiss the corresponding economic opportunities that would benefit other laborers, manufacturers, small businesses, and communities throughout Keystone's supply chain.

    He said: The Washington politics behind the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline are of little concern to those seeking the dignity of a good, high-paying job. We renew our call to the President [President Obama] to approve this important, job- creating project without delay.

    This is what a job is. It is about someone's dignity, their identity, and their self-worth. People take a lot of personal pride in their work and in their job. I think we ought to approve it. I am ready to vote for it.

    The American people have been clear: They are tired of Washington's gridlock and delay, and they are tired of the direction President Obama has been taking this country. The American voters demanded change, they demanded action, and this Republican Congress is going to deliver just that.

    So I say to my friend and colleague from North Dakota--and I see that the chairman of the Senate energy committee has arrived--thank you both for your leadership. To the Senator from North Dakota, former Governor there, thank you for your leadership on energy in North Dakota. And to the senior Senator from Alaska, the chair of the energy committee, thank you specifically for your leadership. I look forward to working with both of you specifically on this project and on additional issues that will bring American energy security and jobs to our Nation.

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