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January 7, 2015

Barrasso: Time for the President to Support Keystone XL

“Now Republicans are going to show the leadership that the American people have been asking for and that they voted for last November. We're going to bring a bill to the floor, force the President finally do to 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.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about how the President should stand with the American people and Congress in supporting the bipartisan and job-creating Keystone XL pipeline.

Excerpts of his remarks:

“Mr. President, let me first thank and congratulate the senator from North Dakota for his dogged determination in fighting for these American jobs, for energy security for our country, so I'm so grateful for his hard work. He's really just been tenacious in his fight to get this bill to pass the Senate and to the President's desk.

“I also want to congratulate my friend and colleague from Montana. Last fall the American people elected 12 new Republican senators to serve in this body. He is one of them.

“I had an opportunity to travel with him in Montana. A great background. He is creative, he is innovative, he is energetic. He is going to do a tremendous job, not just for his state and the Rocky Mountain West, the entire United States as a member of the Senate.

“And he just took his oath yesterday. We were able to hear from him today. He is going to be a remarkable addition to this body.

“Mr. President, 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 that 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 Democrat leadership of 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 United States Senate.

“Many of those bills had overwhelming bipartisan support, just like this one we're debating today.

“Those days are over. That is a completely unacceptable way to run the United States 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's what the American people told us on Election Day. It's what they are expecting from us, and I believe it is what they are demanding of us.

“Now, the poster child for the gridlock and the dysfunction of Washington has been the Keystone XL pipeline.

“For more than six 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 Democrat members of the Senate to block a bill that would move this important jobs project further.

“According to the latest figures, the Americans' labor force participation rate is woefully low.

“It is just 62.8%. Are Democrats in this body, are they satisfied with that number?

“Is the President of the United States, Barack Obama, satisfied with this pathetic level of participation in America's labor force?

“I can tell you that people in my state, Republicans all around the country, they're not satisfied.

“That's why we're determined to push job-creating legislation like this Hoeven bill to advance the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Now, the President has said there's no benefit to this important infrastructure project. During a press conference last month, President Obama actually claimed that the project is as he said, not even going to be of nominal benefit, he said, to the United States consumers.

“Apparently that's what the President believes. Well he's wrong. Just ask the Obama Administration's own State Department. It says that the pipeline would support more than 42,000 jobs.

“Some of those are construction jobs, some of them are in the transportation field, the manufacturing field. Includes jobs at warehouses, restaurants, motels along the route.

“Does President Obama think that a good job that is not even a nominal benefit to America, a country where we get 42,000 jobs by this pipeline?

“According to the Congressional Research Service, there are already 19 pipelines operating across U.S. borders. Why is this one that suddenly offers not even a nominal benefit, according to the President?

“Why does President Obama refuse even to make a decision about whether to approve the pipeline or not. Well the President has taken a position on this bipartisan bill, according to the White House press secretary on Tuesday, said the President will not sign this bill once Congress passes it.

“The State Department has done one study after another showing the pipeline would create jobs, and that it would have no significant environmental impact.

“Now, President Obama’s been downplaying those benefits and threatening to veto the bill. That's 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're going to bring a bill to the floor, force the President finally do to 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're going to allow a vote on this project. We're going to allow senators to offer amendments. What a unique situation in the United States Senate.

“We're going to let everyone say which side they're 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'll try to stoke people's fears.

“We've seen it all before.

“At the end of the day, here's what this all comes down to: four things.

“First, the Keystone XL pipeline will support more than 42,000 jobs in the United States.

“Second, it will be a private investment of $8 billion, not taxpayer spending, private spending.

“Third, it will have minimal effect on the environment.

“And, fourth, 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 and it has been stuck in Washington's bureaucratic gridlock.

“You know, it's 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 about what the President of the Laborers International Union of North America said a summer a year ago.

“He was scheduled to testify at today's hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, 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. And it's interesting.

“There was a press release from the President of the union who was quoted on the subject of the economic benefits associated with construction of the pipeline. He 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 says something about someone's dignity, their identity, 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'm ready to vote for it.

“The American people have been clear. They are tired of Washington's gridlock and delay.

“They are tired of the direction that 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 also that the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee has arrived, thank you both for your leadership, your leadership on energy in North Dakota, to the senator from North Dakota, former governor there.

“And thank you specifically also for your leadership to the senior senator from Alaska, the Chair of the Energy Committee, and 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.”