As noted in posts nearby, Republicans seem determined to play the Keystone Cops on immigration,* when they should be playing Keystone pipeline layers 24/7 right now. John directs us in my post from earlier today to our friends at IER who think the positive State Department assessment means nothing. Perhaps they are right.
But it is just as possible that Obama will play politics with Keystone. The NBC News report on the State Department finding ends with this prospect:
Republicans in Congress have long demanded his approval for the project. Free of major environmental objections to it, the president could conceivably extract a desired vote or policy from GOP lawmakers in exchange for giving construction of the pipeline a green light.
I’ve been hearing this idea for months, usually in connection with some climate or energy initiative (carbon tax?) that would offer Obama some small cover from his enraged green base. But would Obama offer to trade Keystone for an immigration vote in the House instead? Would House Republicans be stupid enough to go for such a deal? I’m afraid they just might.
* For the record, I’m closer to Bill Kristol’s view on immigration, and see some room for sensible reforms. But the House GOP isn’t even in the same time zone as sensible reform, and Republicans should only ponder immigration reform when they have a majority that enables them to pass a bill that would split Democratic Party constituencies. I’d like to hope Boehner and the GOP leadership have some double-secret probation strategy for making Democrats kill immigration reform, but given their strategies lately on everything else who can have confidence they have a cogent plan? So like Kristol right now, I think the GOP shouldn’t advance the idea one inch.
You know who to call: 202-224-3121.