House Republicans to tie payroll tax vote to Keystone XL pipeline approval

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With the Senate deadlocked on how to pay for an extension to the payroll tax cut, House Republicans are planning to tie the vote to a number of Republican-backed issues that they say will create jobs.

“Next week, the House will vote on the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, legislation that will help to create thousands of new American jobs,” Boehner’s office said in a release to POLITICO’s Mike Allen. “The bill will extend the payroll tax cut, protect Social Security, reform and extend unemployment insurance, and extend pro-growth tax relief for businesses of all sizes – while also advancing several bipartisan measures that will directly support the creation of private-sector jobs, including the Keystone XL energy pipeline.”

The White House was sharply critical of the move, with Press Secretary Jay Carney hitting Republicans for including the “extraneous” pipeline.

The State Department postponed a decision on whether to approve the pipeline until after the 2012 election to allow for further review. The delay also saves President Barack Obama from facing a difficult decision over whether to block the massive project at the behest of environmental groups before his reelection.

On Wednesday Obama threatened to veto any extension of the payroll tax that included the Keystone XL pipeline, and he added yesterday that he has questions about how many jobs the project will create.

I know the suggestion right now is, is that somehow, well, this Keystone issue will create jobs. That’s being determined by the State Department right now, and there is a process,” he said. “But here’s what I know: However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline, they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance.”

Obama warned earlier this year that failure to extend the two expiring programs into next year could cost the economy 1 million jobs, and at least 0.5 percentage points off GDP.

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