House Republicans inserted a measure into a bill extending payroll tax benefits that gave Obama until mid-February to decide on Keystone XL, a pipeline planned from tar sands developments in Alberta province. Obama rejected that measure, blaming the "arbitrary" deadline.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed energy initiatives during a visit to Beijing this week. His government had said it would look to Asian markets for its oil reserves if the United States wasn't interested in the pipeline.
U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that Obama was giving the Chinese the upper hand by his decisions regarding Keystone XL.
"It's outrageous and unacceptable to drive our friends the Canadians into the arms of China," he said. "Next to our national debt, the communist Chinese government is the biggest threat to American national security in the 21st century."
Democratic leaders claim there are no assurances that oil delivered through Keystone XL would be designated for U.S. markets. Obama's critics shot down a measure ensuring oil from the project would go to U.S. markets in a bill that House leaders said takes the politics out of the Keystone XL decision.