WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said that Republicans could seek to tie an extension of a tax cut for every American worker to federal approval of a pipeline to carry oil and natural gas from Canada to refineries in Texas.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Boehner said that all options were "on the table" when pressed by host Chris Wallace if he would try to bind the two issues together.
Congressional lawmakers hope to reach an agreement soon on how to extend a reduced federal payroll tax rate as well as jobless benefits for long-term unemployed people. The current tax rate and benefits program both expire at the end of February.
At the same time, Republicans are urging President Barack Obama to approve the construction of the so-called Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil and natural gas from Alberta down to refineries in Texas.
Boehner said construction of the pipeline would create 20,000 jobs directly, and 100,000 indirect American jobs.
Republicans attached language requiring a decision on the pipeline project by February.
The White House rejected the pipeline's construction last week, saying the congressionally-imposed deadline didn't leave enough time to fully consider its impact. TransCanada Corp. (TRP.T, TRP), the company hoping to build it can reapply for permission, and a subsequent decision is not likely to occur until after the November elections.
As the decision on the pipeline rests with the executive branch, Boehner's ability to force the White House to approve its construction is limited. But if Republicans were to refuse to continue jobless benefits and the payroll tax cut, it could put pressure on the president to reconsider.
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