President Obama told Republicans that he will veto the extension of the payroll tax if it forces approval of the tar sands pipeline as an extraneous attachment.
He told reporters: "Any effort to try to tie Keystone to the payroll tax cut I will reject," along with any other "extraneous" provisions added to it.
Republicans have been trying to extract a price for approving the payroll tax, which is a strong priority for Obama.
Earlier this week, they said they would attach a bill that strips the President’s and State Department’s authority to decide on whether the tar sands pipeline goes through. It would force the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to make a decision in 30 days, and substantially restricting FERC’s discretion to reject the project in the process.
They’re also targeting EPA air pollution rules that would regulate emissions from industrial boilers.
After meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Harper today, President Obama made it clear that the orderly process for evaluating the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would stand, despite efforts in Congress to rush to judgment and speed up the timeline.
In statements to the press, the President reiterated that he will consider the future of our environment and the impact on Americans’ health and safety in his decision over whether to allow the proposed project.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), says Republicans welcome that showdown because it they will defend projects that "create jobs."
Obama says the payroll tax cut should be extended on own merits, and it should not be held "hostage," as have so many bills.
"I don’t expect to have to veto it because I expect they are going to have enough sense over on Capitol Hill to do the people’s business and not try and load it up with a bunch of politics," he says.
In other political news, the GOP is blocking Obama’s nominee to head the new Consumer Protection Agency, formed under the Dodd-Frank Act after the financial meltdown.