House Republicans blasted President Obama's decision this afternoon to reject a bid to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline, with House Speaker John Boehner claiming that "the president is selling out American jobs for politics."
"President Obama is destroying tens of thousands of American jobs and shipping American energy security to the Chinese. There's really just no other way to put it," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "The president was given the authority to block this project only and only if he believes it's not in the national interest of the United States. Is it not in the national interest to create tens of thousands of jobs here in America with private investment? Is it not in the national interest to get energy resources from an ally like Canada, as opposed to some countries in the Middle East?"
"The president has said he'll do anything that he can to create jobs. Today that promise was broken," Boehner continued. "The president won't stand up to his political base, even in the name of creating American jobs."
Boehner vowed that the president's decision today is not the end of the fight over the pipeline and all options would be on the table to ensure the project proceeds, including possibly tying the approval to the long-term extension of the payroll tax cut.
"This fight is not going to go away. You can count on it," Boehner insisted. "There are legislative vehicles that we'll be moving…in the weeks and months ahead, and Republicans on Capitol Hill will continue to do everything we can to make this decision a positive decision for our country."
House Energy Chairman Fred Upton said he's invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Capitol Hill next week to testify and explain the decision, which the president said he reached after agreeing with a recommendation from the State Department.
"I will remind you that in October of 2010, Secretary Clinton indicated that she was inclined to support this project," Upton, R-Mich., said. "This last August 2011, the State Department completed their analysis, and they agreed that the proposed route was in fact the preferred route."
Prior to the speaker's news conference, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the president's decision on Keystone was the Republicans' fault for imposing a 60 day deadline, which was set to expire Feb. 21.
"If the Republicans cared so much about the Keystone pipeline, they would not have narrowed the president's options by putting it on the time frame that they did," Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "They left him very little choice."
Boehner disagreed, however, and said that "while the president may say we forced his hand, the facts are indisputable that the State Department has had this under review for three years."
"Under the agreement that was in the legislation, the president had to make a decision," he said. "It had to be based on what was in the national interest of our country, and for the president to say that the Keystone pipeline is not in the interest of our country, I think most Americans are scratching their heads wondering why."
Pelosi said that she disagreed with the Republicans' assertion that the project will now end up in China, and said "this oil was always destined for overseas."
"It's just a question of whether it leaves Canada by way of Canada or it leaves Canada by way of the United States," she said. "It was always going overseas. I don't know where to, but it wasn't for domestic consumption, and that's really an important point because the advertising is quite to the contrary."
"When I was in Canada last year for the then-speaker's meeting in September, this was Topic A, Subject A," Pelosi continued. "My questions were, to them, 'why don't you take it out through Canada?' Well, they don't want to. They don't want to take it out through Canada. They want to take it out through the United States. But it is going out [regardless]."