Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, today the President welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the White House, and I would like to take the opportunity to say that I hope the Prime Minister is able to convince President Obama to reverse his recent decision to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The President has said repeatedly that jobs are his top priority. He says he wakes up every morning thinking about how he can create jobs. Yet here is the single greatest shovel-ready project in America ready to go, and for some reason he is suddenly not interested.
I have a question: How is it that when it comes to taxpayer-subsidized jobs that may or may not materialize, the President tells us we can't wait, we have to do it tomorrow, but when it comes to private sector jobs that are ready to go immediately, he is in no rush? It doesn't make any sense, particularly when we look at some of the President's past statements.
Here are a couple of examples. President Obama said earlier this year:
For those--just to give a background to folks, there are these tar sands in Canada that can produce oil. There is talk about building a pipeline into the United States to import that oil.
This is the President. He said:
I will make this general point, which is that, first of all, importing oil from countries that are stable and friendly is a good thing.
That is the President, and I agree with him.
The President also said earlier this year--a statement of the obvious:
We're still going to have to import some oil.
Boy, are we.
And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we've got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources.
That was the President earlier this year.
So the President has correctly said, in my view, that he favors importing oil from allies and neighbors. Here is a project that would enable us to do that and do a lot more of it and create thousands of jobs in the process. What is the problem?
Last Friday, Americans woke up to the news that for the 34th month in a row, the unemployment rate in this country has stood above 8 percent--a period of joblessness not seen since the Great Depression. The least they can expect from Washington is that we will not stand in the way of people who want to hire. Yet that is exactly what they are getting from this President when it comes to this pipeline. This project has been under review for years--3 years--including two exhaustive environmental evaluations. By all accounts, the State Department was ready to give it the green light by the end of this year--this month.
What happened? Well, it appears Presidential politics got in the way. The President started getting heat from the environmental activists he is counting on to stuff envelopes next year, so he conveniently put off the decision until right after next year's election.
So if this episode tells us anything, it is that the President is clearly more concerned about getting himself reelected next year than getting somebody in Montana or Kansas or South Dakota or Missouri a job today. He is so determined to keep his liberal base happy, he is even willing to go against the labor unions that, by the way, are enthusiastically in favor of beginning this project right now.
What have they had to say about it? Well, the Teamsters put it this way:
The Keystone Pipeline project will offer working men and women a real chance to earn a good wage and support their families in this difficult economic climate.
That is Jimmy Hoffa.
For America's skilled craft construction professionals, any discussion of the Keystone XL project begins and ends with one word: JOBS.
The AFL-CIO further said:
As many as 500,000 indirect jobs via a strong economic multiplier effect ..... without one single dollar of government assistance.
Isn't this what we are looking for? It doesn't cost the government anything. It creates jobs immediately. This is what we are looking for.
The Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:
At a time when jobs are the top global priority, the Keystone project will put thousands back to work and have ripple benefits throughout the North American economy.
Laborers' International Union of North America had this to say: This is ``not just a pipeline, but is a lifeline''--not just a pipeline, but a lifeline--``for thousands of desperate working men and women.''
So what do we have here? We have a privately funded project that labor leaders are saying their members want up and running. But the President says this one can wait. Despite what he has said about importing oil from allies, despite what the labor unions say, the President wants to delay these jobs until after his election.
It is not just the unions and the Republicans who are asking for this project to move forward. Let's take a look at what some of the Democrats in Congress have said about it. There was a letter from 22 House Democrats to President Obama on October 19 of this year, and I will just read a few excerpts: ``America truly cannot afford to say no.''
Further in the letter:
Mr. President, America needs the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Further in the letter:
The Department of State's Final Environmental Impact Statement reaffirmed the findings of the two previous environmental impact statements, namely, that the Keystone XL Pipeline will have no significant impact on the environment.
Further in this letter from the 22 Democrats to the President they said:
This represents a true shovel-ready project that would directly create 20,000 high quality domestic manufacturing and construction jobs for Americans who are desperately seeking employment.
That is 22,000 directly working for the pipeline. I have already described the spin-off benefits--the other jobs that would be created as a result of it.
Senator Baucus--right here in the
Senate--Senator Baucus said:
We need to put Montanans back to work and cannot afford further delays to the Keystone XL pipeline.
Senator Tester said:
It should not have to wait 14 months for an up-or-down decision.
The Montana Senators have it right. Americans can't wait for the next election. They want their jobs now--right now.
So it is my hope that Prime Minister Harper is able to convince the President to change his mind.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats stand ready to move forward on this project. We are prepared to do all within our means to get the Keystone XL Pipeline approved. There is literally no time for delay.
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