Sen. Mike Johanns isn’t surprised that the House has attached the Keystone XL pipeline to a proposal to extend the payroll tax cut.
“At the end of the year when everybody’s trying to get something done, this pops up a lot,” Johanns says. “It is not an unusual process here.”
Republican leaders in the House have unveiled their plan to extend the 2% cut in the tax that funds Social Security. The proposal includes approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, altering environmental regulations and selling the broadband spectrum.
Johanns has been pushing approval of TransCanada’s presidential permit to build the $7 million Keystone XL pipeline. Under Johanns’ proposal, TransCanada would be awarded the permit and allowed to begin construction on the pipeline while Nebraska works out an alternative route for the pipeline around the Sand Hills.
TransCanada needs the permit to construct the 1,700 mile pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast. Its original proposal to build through the Sand Hills in Nebraska drew strong criticism in the state. The company agreed to move the pipeline during a special session of the legislature, called to discuss state oil pipeline regulations.
While Republicans control the United States House in Washington, Democrats control the Senate. Leaders in the Senate say that chamber will not consider a payroll tax extension measure with the Keystone XL pipeline attached. President Obama, a Democrat, has threatened to veto any tax cut extension bill that includes approval of Keystone.
Congress cut the 6.2% payroll tax to 4.2% for this year to put more cash in consumer pockets and help stimulate the economy. The cut is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress approves extending it.