Keystone Deserves a Vote

The American people, the House, and the Senate overwhelmingly favor it, but Harry Reid is holding it up.

Every American, whether Democrat or Republican, agrees that job creation and affordable energy will be crucial to our economic turnaround. Fortunately, there is a project that will create jobs, provide direct investment in our economy, and move us closer to our longstanding goal of becoming energy independent: the Keystone XL pipeline.

Keystone will deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, North Dakota, and Montana to Gulf Coast refineries. It will directly create 20,000 jobs and indirectly create tens of thousands more, at a time when more than 11 million Americans are out of work. Added reliable supply from Canada and North Dakota also will reduce the impact of oil-price spikes dictated by the OPEC cartel. And we know, based on a study by the State Department, that the project will have minimal impact on the environment.

The benefits associated with this project are widely understood: 66 percent of Americans support Keystone, according to a March Pew Research poll. And yet President Obama has refused to grant the necessary permits. So it’s up to Congress to force the issue — but the effort to do so has fallen victim to Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Standing alongside the vast majority of Americans who support this project, House Republicans unanimously joined 19 House Democrats to support legislation that would approve the pipeline. This strong support extends to the U.S. Senate, too. On March 22, before the House had passed its authorization, 62 senators voted to express support for the Keystone XL pipeline. This filibuster-proof vote in favor of putting Americans back to work included 17 Democrats.

Despite support from a majority of Americans, a majority of the House of Representatives, and a majority of the Senate, Keystone XL is stuck – stalled by special-interest politics.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that since the majority of his colleagues support the project, Leader Reid will bring the House bill to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote. But conventional wisdom doesn’t account for the political pressure he is receiving from the White House, which has stalled on approving this project since President Obama took office in 2009. Reid knows the project would pass the Senate, forcing the president to make a decision that pits his radical-environmentalist base against job creation.

Making his priorities clear, Leader Reid has even said, “I am not going to help [the pipeline] in any way I can. The president feels that way. I do, too.” Such an important project should not rest on a senator’s political whims.

This posturing should stop. Americans believe in securing a reliable supply of the critical resource that takes our children to school and delivers products to customers. They believe we should capitalize on the opportunity to reduce the influence OPEC nations have on the price of oil. And most important, they believe in American job creation.

It’s time to act, Mr. Leader. Bring the Keystone XL pipeline to the floor for a vote.

— Kevin McCarthy is the representative of California’s 23rd district, serves as the majority whip in the House of Representatives, and is the chairman of the House Energy Action Team.

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