If any bill should have passed Senate approval, it should have been the one to approve the long-awaited Keystone XL pipeline project, Louisiana Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy says in this week's GOP address
"The case for approving the pipeline is clear and obvious," said Cassidy, who is challenging Louisiana incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu for her seat in a runoff election on Dec. 6. "This is a perfect example of what the American people want President [Barack] Obama and Congress to do."
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However, he said, while the House readily passed the Keystone bill he sponsored and made it as "easy as possible for the Senate to get a bill to the President's desk," the Democratic-controlled Senate failed to pass it.
Earlier this month, House Republicans took the Senate bill, which had been drafted by North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven and Landrieu and put it on the floor, with Cassidy as sponsor after Landrieu announced she'd push for a vote in the Senate during the lame-duck session, reports The Times-Picayune
in New Orleans.
The House passed its bill on Nov. 14, but in the Senate on Tuesday, it failed by a 59-41, just one vote short of the 60 it needed to pass.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a vital issue to Louisiana's energy interests, and if approved the 1,179-mile long structure will transport crude oil from Canada into Nebraska, from where it is added to domestic crude oil supplies and carried through the country to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
"Americans' frustration with the President's failure to strengthen the economy, create jobs and make America energy secure was evident in the election on Nov. 4," said Cassidy Saturday. "But more than six years after the Keystone application was first submitted, the pipeline has still not been approved. This is six years too long."
Cassidy, who is a medical doctor, said he has treated many in Louisiana's public hospital system, and many families in his state are struggling.
"They need better jobs, better wages, better benefits," said Cassidy. "We have the opportunity to create these jobs. It starts with developing North America's natural resources and securing America's energy independence now. "
The Nov. 14 House vote was the ninth time the chamber has supported the pipeline, said Cassidy, as it would "create more than 40,000 high-paying jobs, putting billions of dollars in workers' pockets, and give a much needed boost to America's construction industry."
In addition, refineries in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast would "benefit from a reliable supply of heavy crude, including American oil from North Dakota, which would be transported through the pipeline," and manufacturers and employees would benefit from the pipeline's construction.
Opponents, however, say the pipeline poses environmental threats and won't produce more than 50 permanent jobs, The Times-Picayune reports. Further, they say that once the crude oil is refined on the Gulf Coast, it's likely to be exported and not used in the United States.
But Cassidy said Saturday that "more than 60 percent of Americans support" the pipeline, and a State Department review showed that it will have "little or no impact on the environment," and would save lives over transporting oil by truck or train.
But "President Obama doesn't seem to care," Cassidy said, and he does not understand why it has taken Landrieu, who is Louisiana's senior senator, "nearly 3,000 days to do something about it."
The House bill even contained the legislative language that the Senate itself had proposed, said Cassidy, and it passed with strong bipartisan support in that chamber.
"Unfortunately, President Obama and his supporters in the Senate oppose the Keystone jobs," said Cassidy.
The issue isn't only about the Keystone pipeline, said Cassidy, as it has become "a symbol" for energy independence.
Americans, he said, spoke loudly in the midterm election and obviously want Congress to work together.
"They rejected President Obama's agenda that discourages the creation of manufacturing and construction jobs – the jobs that would be created because of projects like Keystone," said Cassidy.
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