Obama Picks First Fight With Republican Congress By Downplaying Benefits Of Keystone XL Pipeline

After beating Republicans on the recent $1.1 trillion budget deal, Obama appears to be gearing up to fight the new Congress over the Keystone XL pipeline.

During his end of the year press conference, Obama downplayed the economic benefits of the pipeline while earlier in the week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised an early vote approving the construction. McConnell told reporters a bill approving the pipeline will be the first legislation voted on by the new Republican controlled Senate next year.

The 1,179 mile pipeline from Canada to Texas would carry over 800,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day to Gulf Coast refineries.

At the White House press briefing, Obama minimized the benefits of the construction project and said he was waiting for a decision from the Nebraska court before a final decision would be made. He refused to answer a follow up question about how he would react if Republicans moved forward and put a bill approving the project on his desk.

Obama claimed the pipeline project would benefit Canadian oil companies and would have minimal impact on U.S. jobs and gasoline prices.

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