WASHINGTON — Don't count on seeing the Keystone XL pipeline being tied into coming budget fights on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., is one of the biggest champions of the politically charged project and would love to see it included in the budget talks.
In fact, he plans to talk to House GOP leaders soon about the issue. But he acknowledged Wednesday that it will be a tough sell.
Many Republican lawmakers are feeling burned after they tried to defund the health care law by linking the issue to keeping the government funded. The resulting 16-day partial federal shutdown took a toll on both parties, but particularly Republicans.
Since then, the prevailing GOP sentiment is to make the next round of budget battles chiefly about fiscal matters.
“I think it is going to focus on dollars,” Terry said, then added, “but if they want to find a way to increase revenues generally, they can do that with the Keystone pipeline.”
Terry spoke to reporters after addressing an energy infrastructure event at the Canadian Embassy.
During his remarks at the event, Terry talked about the years of review put into the project that would transport more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands of Canada to refineries in Texas.
Supporters of the project say it represents jobs and energy independence, while opponents see a climate change disaster and the risk of water-befouling oil spills.
Terry suggested at the event that delays in the project are leading to estrangement with Canada, our “sibling” to the north.
He told reporters afterward that he was simply relaying what he hears in meetings with Canadian public officials.
“We're going to continue to have a business relationship. Has this strained it? Has this created a … lack of confidence in Canada with us? Absolutely,” Terry said.
Terry said it's important to keep pressing for the Keystone project. That includes trying to link it to the budget debate.
“It's always going to be out there. As long as it's hovering above everything I'm going to be the one to try to bring it down into the discussions,” Terry said. “Maybe there will be an opportunity, maybe there won't.”