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Legislation Could Inadvertently Force President Obama to Kill The Project

Senate leaders announced Friday evening a deal to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months.  The deal includes House-passed language to expedite construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. But Democratic aides said this concession would have the effect of killing the project because the Obama administration has said it would not grant approval on a truncated timeline. Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said they would not accept even a temporary extension of the payroll tax holiday without the Keystone language.

The Obama administration delaying a decision on the pipeline project until 2013.  The pipeline would deliver oil sands crude from Canada to Texas, but Republicans have sought to force the president to make a decision sooner.

President Obama will not accept an attempt by Congress to mandate construction of the pipeline before there is an adequate review of health, safety and environmental regulations. The State Department has already said that if the review was shortened to 60 days as it is in this bill, it won't be able to conduct the necessary review. So the pipeline will almost certainly not be approved, the official said, proving the entire process moot. They killed the Keystone XL pipeline because they forced the president to make a decision before he can make it so he’s not going to move forward with it.

The House-passed Keystone language merely speeds up the decision process but does not determine whether the project would be approved. Officials at the State Department, which has authority over approving the project, said they would not be able to conduct the necessary review if given only 60 days, the timeline set by House Republicans. (The Hill, 12/16/2011, The Hill, 12/16/2011)