WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Republican leaders are holding a middle-class tax cut hostage by a provision for the Keystone XL oil pipeline in a bill they know won't pass, an official said.
The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday that extends a payroll tax cut and increases jobless benefits but gives the White House two months to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
Canadian pipeline company TransCanada wants to build the pipeline to carry crude oil from tar sands projects in Alberta to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. The original route passed over an aquifer in Nebraska.
A decision to examine an alternative route through Nebraska prompted the U.S. State Department to say a final review won't come until after next year's U.S. presidential elections.
Critics said the decision was a political move to appease U.S. President Barack Obama's environmental voters, though the White House said the Nebraska decision forced its hand.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said inserting Keystone into the tax measure was "absolutely counterproductive."
The House bill is unlikely to pass through the Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama announced he would veto the measure.
Republican leaders describe Keystone as a shovel-ready project that would create thousands of jobs, questioning Obama's position given his recent "we can't wait" initiative.