Congressman Jerry Lewis Tuesday gave strong support to legislation that would extend a payroll tax cut, reduce job-killing burdens on small business, and expedite a pipeline project that will create thousands of jobs.
"Congress's top priority must be finding ways to help Americans get back to work, and this bill gives the green light to the most shovel-ready project in the country -- one that could create tens of thousands of jobs," Lewis said. "It continues the payroll tax cut, extends and reforms unemployment insurance, and cuts away red tape that is keeping many of our small businesses from hiring more workers."
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 3630) ensures that Social Security is protected from the loss of the payroll tax cut by reimbursing the fund from general revenues. The reduction in revenues is offset by a series of common-sense spending reductions -- nearly all of which have been endorsed by the President in the past, Lewis said.
"I urge the Senate to pass this legislation and get the construction workers on the job as soon as possible," Lewis said. "Without this approval, it is probable that hundreds of workers who have already been hired for the pipeline could be laid off."
The Keystone XL Pipeline project would allow the United States to bring 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, significantly reducing the nation's dependence on Middle East oil, Lewis said. The project has already received environmental approval by both Canadian authorities and the U.S. State Department.
But the administration delayed the project in November after environmental groups warned publicly that they would not support the President's reelection. This delay has already led to layoffs at a pipe manufacturer in Arkansas, Lewis said.
"It is outrageous that the administration has delayed this project, which promises to create so many jobs and reduce our nation's energy costs, seemingly because of political threats from environmental groups," Lewis said. "This bill would require quick approval of the project, or an explanation from the President of why it is not in the public interest."
Lewis also criticized the Senate's decision to hold up an appropriations bill that would fund the government beyond the current Dec. 16 deadline until the House passes a version of the year-end tax extenders bill that is acceptable to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"We've been working on this bill for weeks now, and we have agreement among both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate -- it is shameful to hold the government funding hostage to this political debate," said Lewis, who is chairman emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "It's time to get our work done and move on."