A senior Democratic congressman likened Republican lawmakers to terrorists on Thursday for their insistence on tying approval of construction of a new oil pipeline to must-pass legislation.
California Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the coauthor of the 2009 cap-and-trade climate change bill, decried efforts by the GOP to force the Obama administration into approving a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
"They want to use legislation as a way to act like terrorists. They hold things as hostage," Waxman said. "We almost couldn't fund the government because Republicans wanted to hold that idea hostage, we almost couldn't pay our debts because the Republicans wanted to hold that legislation hostage to their extreme agenda, and I wouldn't be surprised if they scuttled this conference by trying to hold us hostage."
Waxman was referring specifically to rumblings from Republicans that they might attach the provision to legislation extending a payroll tax cut through the end of 2012. Waxman is one of the 20 bipartisan negotiators who are working to reach an agreement on that extension by Feb. 29, when the current extension is set to expire.
During the first meeting of the payroll tax cut negotiators on Tuesday, Waxman said that he supports using the millionaire tax surcharge to help pay for the extension, a nonstarter for Republicans, but has made it clear that the Keystone pipeline is not something he would support.
"That is so stupid already for them to be pushing the Keystone pipeline issue in this bill, in this conference," Waxman said today, "Republicans have been so mean-spirited, and I think that's coming across to the American people."
Waxman is among a group of lawmakers who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline for environmental reasons, citing the number of jobs created over the two years it will take to construct the pipe as not worth the environmental costs that will result from the use of the oil that it transports.
"Many of us believe that that pipeline will lock us into a 50 to 100 years of dependence on the dirtiest source of oil that can cause enormous increases in greenhouse gases and lead to greater global warming and climate change," Waxman said.