Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday the payroll-tax legislation was too important to lose even though Obama had threatened to veto a bill that includes the unrelated pipeline legislation.
"The president did make clear that he was not going to allow Congress to tie to that vote something that would mandate or force him to accept the Keystone permit when there was not adequate time to do a health and safety environmental review," said Sperling. "Nothing in this bill mandates the president to do that.
"This … did not go against his veto threat or his core principle of making sure that we do not see taxes going up on 160 million Americans when the economy still needs to strengthen much further," Sperling said.
The controversial Keystone proposal requires the State Department to decide on issuing a construction permit within 60 days for the project, which would ship Canadian oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Sperling said the State Department has said repeatedly the review of the permit could not be done in such a short time and would likely deny it.