Congressional Republicans doubled down on President Obama’s “double back flip with a twist,” in the words of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), on the Keystone pipeline, putting a full-court press on the administration’s energy policy Tuesday in the face of climbing gas prices.
The White House, which had been focusing on Tuesday’s auto-bailout victory lap at the United Auto Workers convention, fired back at the offensive before taking any questions at the daily press briefing, accusing GOP leaders of using “demonstrably, categorically false” allegations that the president isn’t for expanding domestic oil and gas production.
“He, being honest with the American people, makes clear that there are no silver bullets here, there are no quick fixes,” press secretary Jay Carney said of Obama’s “all-of-the-above” long-term energy plan.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), joined by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other top Republicans, challenged Obama at a press conference to push several energy and jobs bills stuck in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“The president says he’s for an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan. Has anyone seen it?” Bohener said of the White House’s contention that a mix of fossil fuels and alternative energy production is necessary. “I’ve not seen it. And the fact is, is the president blocked the Keystone pipeline, he’s blocked efforts to expand energy production in the Intermountain West, over in the Gulf and in a small portion of Alaska.
“If the president’s serious about working with us to expand energy production in America and to deal with the rising oil prices, it’s time for him to lay his cards on the table,” Boehner said.
The speaker also sent a letter to the president Tuesday accusing the administration of regulations and actions that have served to take traditional energy sources out of “all of the above.”
“Over the last three years, your administration has blocked, slowed, and discouraged the production of critical American energy sources,” Boehner wrote. “You have defended your administration’s record by citing today’s historically high level of domestic oil production. But, as we both know, that production can be attributed mostly to the policies of your predecessor as well as a boom on state and private lands, which lie largely outside of federal control.
“On federal land, energy production fell 11 percent last year, and your draft five-year plan for off shore exploration projects a decline in federal leasing and permitting,” the speaker wrote.
He also urged Obama to expedite TransCanada’s new application for the cross-border northern segment of the Keystone pipeline, after the administration said Monday it “welcomes” a southern leg from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico and would move that permitting process along as swiftly as possible.
“We can’t wait for this project to get started,” Boehner wrote of the full pipeline. “…I look forward to discussing this important issue at the earliest convenience.”
Sending Carney out swinging in the afternoon, the White House wasn’t in a mood to discuss, though the press secretary did say there “should be” a chat between the leaders.
“The Speaker of the House apparently spoke with reporters this morning in which he suggested that the president wasn’t in support of expanding domestic oil and gas production, which is demonstrably, categorically false — and suggested that somehow simply by drilling or approving the Keystone XL pipeline, that that would lower gas prices, that would lower prices at the pump,” Carney said. ”And that’s the kind of empty promise that politicians make when we face hikes in the global price of oil that is really dishonest, the kind of promises that are dishonest with the American people.”
Carney later said that “calling on the president to approve the Keystone pipeline right away when there isn’t even a proposal that exists for that pipeline to be approved is suggesting to the American people that there is a cause and effect here that doesn’t exist.” The company has to reapply after Obama killed their original application last month, a move the president blamed on pressure from House Republicans.
But Boehner was far from the only legislator on the Hill to take the gas-price fight to Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday.