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Pushing Keystone XL is Smart Lawmaking

Pushing Keystone XL is Smart Lawmaking

GOP Leadership has an ace up its sleeve.

Senate Republicans are going to use their newfound majority advantage to tackle Keystone XL first thing come January, sending a message to Democrats and Washington at large that they’re dealing with a different breed of leadership.

Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip-elect John Cornyn (R-TX) don’t have an easy job ahead of them; even in the wake of Dems’ midterm cycle defeats, many conservatives are still making their concerns heard about the leadership’s commitment to taking on big government, as opposed to just rolling with the punches.

But for Mitch McConnell, who has struggled to pass conservative legislation during Harry Reid’s time in the Majority, this move seems to be about more than just getting a bill passed—it’s about fundamentally changing the way both sides participate in the deliberative process.

From Politico:

“I hope that senators on both sides will offer energy-related amendments, but there will be no effort to micromanage the amendment process,” McConnell told reporters. “And we’ll move forward and hopefully be able to pass a very important job-creating bill early in the session.”

Among potential energy amendments that senators could seek to attach to the Keystone bill are proposals to slow or stop EPA’s emissions rules for power plants and plans to fast-track liquefied natural gas exports.

McConnell added: “The notion that building another pipeline is somehow threatening to the environment is belied by the fact that we already have 19 pipelines, I’m told by Lisa Murkowski, that either cross the Mexican border or the Canadian border. Multiple studies showing over and over again no measurable harm to the environment. People want jobs, and this project will create high-wage jobs for our people and it certainly does enjoy a lot of bipartisan support. You saw that on the vote that was held a couple weeks ago.”

An open amendment debate? This is new territory for the Senate, which under Reid’s control served as little more than a killing field for even bipartisan amendments.

Tackling Keystone XL out of the gate is a smart move on the part of McConnell and Cornyn for two reasons. The first is obvious; by forcing a vote on the pipeline first, they’ll likely be forcing Democrats to go on the record as supporting or rejecting other hot-button energy issues like EPA emissions standards, fracking, and energy exports. This puts pressure on Democrats to take a stand for job growth and expansion of our energy market, and provides Republicans the opportunity to present a unified caucus. (Not a single Republican shot down the pipeline last time it came up for a vote.)

The second is less obvious—and possibly less satisfying, depending on how you feel about Congress—but effective nonetheless. Keystone is a bipartisan issue, which means that by the time debate on the bill rolls around, both Republicans and Democrats will stump for its passage. Earlier this month, 14 Democrats stood up in favor of the pipeline; depending on who steps up to the mic, Republicans will be able to make hay out comparisons between Reid’s do-nothing Senate, and McConnell’s productive, bipartisan one.

Will we still see political theatre and bad faith obstructionism? Absolutely. But this time around, we’ll at least be in control of how far that obstructionism is allowed to go, and that sounds like a recipe for progress to me.


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Keystone XL Whoo Hoo!!! Yipee!!

Let’s see, we have given up the power of the purse for the next fiscal year, ceded unconstitutional power to the Executive branch, and the Senate Republicans refused to stand for the Constitution. Oh, but Keystone XL!!!
And maybe we can be bipartisan about it!! And,and then Jeb will run!!

Where’d I put my Scotch?

    Valerie in reply to Yujin. | December 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. Winning two landslide election years in a row only allows an opportunity to to govern sensibly, not wave a wand and reverse every policy decision made over the last 6 years..

    Scalding the Republicans for failing to act “enough” before they’ve even taken office is something a supporter of the Democrats might want to do.

      In the present case, the Republicans acted before they took control so they won’t be able to act after they take control.

      In effect, the Republicans told the Democrats to steal all that we have lest we get it to the bank where it would be safe.

With words like ‘productive’, ‘bipartisan’, ‘comprehensive’ and ‘omni-anything’ we know big spending and micro-managing feral government is afoot.

Stop the Democrats? Heh, we’ve unleashed the dogs from hell.

‘Senate Republicans are going to use their newfound majority advantage to tackle Keystone XL first thing come January, sending a message to Democrats and Washington at large that they’re dealing with a different breed of leadership.’

I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not holding my breath on this one…

“…sending a message to Democrats and Washington at large that they’re dealing with a different breed of leadership.”

Gosh, that hit a raw nerve, lucy !

Here’s a winning issue for the Repubs in the next election.

Whether we like it or not, somebody is at war with us. It’s an asymmetric war, which makes things complicated but not unwinnable. Unfortunately, the Democratic idea of using our indirect power (“smart power”) is to side with the people who are dedicated to killing us all.

What is needed is a foreign policy directed by somebody who is not delusional about how wars end.

Time is the key to eliminating the graft associated with ‘gotcha’ ammendments. Far too often a bill will come up for debate, hang in there for a long while, then an ammendment gets proposed out of ‘nowhere’ that radically changes the bill, and moments later it zips through. Perhaps a 48 hour ‘from announcement to debate’ warning period, and a 24 hour ‘from proposing an ammendment to voting on such’ limit would help.

McConnell and the rest of the GOPe leadership are suffering from a form of battered wife syndrome. So eager to please the one that has abused them so long, desperately wanting to keep the peace at all costs, and just setting the stage to get slapped upside the head once again. It’s pathetic, really…

A McConnell/GOP bill voted on in the Senate will be a mix of tough unequivocal language (shall be built) followed with conditional clauses and nods to executive level agencies (unless deemed by secretary of energy). This was the game played in last year’s immigration bill. 1 part tough enforcement and 2 parts agency waivers/certifications.

The GOP will then send out fundraising letters pleading for a pat on the back and your donations for their tough action.

Subotai Bahadur | December 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Yujin, MSO, and Howard Roark spoke my mind; except for what I first thought when I saw the headline on the post:

“GOP Leadership has an ace up its sleeve.”

Cognitive dissonance. The combinations of “GOP” and “Leadership” in combination, or the concept of those two words [singly or in combination] being paired with “ace up their sleeve” except to be deployed against their own voters just do not compute.

OT, but Republican Martha McSally has been officially declared the winner of the southern AZ congressional seat formerly held by Democrat Ron Barber (former chief of staff to Gabby Giffords), after a recount of votes.

The election was for the new Congress, and they will hit the ground running. They need to, since the funding passed on Homeland Security is what expires the end of February, so in order to restrict the spending for Obama’s amnesty they will need to produce a detailed appropriation – an extension of the CR isn’t really enough, there is too much discretionary money.

Whiners and complainers will find something to whine and complain about. It’s who they are and what they do.

    Hold your breath.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Estragon. | December 18, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    The money for implementing the Amnesty by Decree was not in the Homeland Security Budget. They can argue all February, but the only part of the DHS budget that is frozen is what they can semi-plausibly “claim” involves national security.

    The money for the implementation of the Amnesty by Decree was split up amongst other Executive Departments with instructions how to use it. This was done BY THE REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE in collusion with the Democrats. HHS has the biggest chunk, but it is in several parts of the government, is already appropriated, passed, signed, and the money is going to be spent for the Amnesty with the approval of Congress.

    This is a shell game. And the Democrats were bragging about it in the Washington Post before the vote in the House.

    The current Republican “leadership”, which will be the same “leadership” in the new Congress, gave up all leverage. The only way to stop the Amnesty is if these same lop-earred duds go back into the budget and repeal the grants to the other departments that they have not already spent. Can you see Boehner or McConnell doing that in your wildest dreams?

    They will not fight. They have been co-opted. One can argue that it is because they are Statists like their Governing Party colleagues, that they are being extorted by the coercive organs of the State, or that they are being paid off. But there is no evidence that they will fight back, and every indication that they will not. Past record being the best predictor of future performance.