Congress, White House Continue to Waste Time on Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline is officially the first legislative victory for the Republican Party in the 114th Congress. The Senate voted on Thursday to build the pipeline despite a veto threat from President Obama. Nine Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in a 62-36 vote.

Republican lawmakers claim the $8 billion project will create much needed jobs in the United States while reducing America’s dependency on oil from countries in hostile regions.

However, with oil prices at 6-year lows, the domestic oil industry is hurting right now. Not only are companies not hiring in large numbers, some companies have been forced to layoff workers or are anticipating layoffs. Further, oil exports from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico will not be affected one way or another by the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline since there is already plenty of pipeline running through the country.

Therefore, the showdown between Congress and the White House is a complete waste of time, but this is not the conversation happening on Capitol Hill. This is not the conversation happening in the media. It is just more of the same talking points.

Republicans are making Keystone about jobs and the Democratic opposition is making it about climate change — neither of which will be greatly affected by the construction of the pipeline. If Republicans were concerned about job creation, they would spend time creating legislation that would facilitate real job growth in areas the U.S. economy needs growth.

There is no evidence that Keystone XL will create enough jobs to be statistically relevant and there is no evidence that Keystone XL will destroy the planet. It is panem et circenses. It will distract the parties’ bases while doing absolutely nothing to solve any problems in the United States. It is nothing more than a symbolic vote for both parties.

The Senate bill now heads to the U.S. House. Congressional Republicans are expected to act quickly to force the president to make what they believe will be a politically unpopular decision.

Republican leaders know they will likely not be able to convince enough Democrats to override a veto, but that is the game they are playing. They are gambling political points that voters will respond the way they want them to when Obama vetoes Keystone XL. Meanwhile, nothing is actually getting accomplished in Washington.

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