Why I voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline: Guest opinion

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Oregon, January 20, 2015 | comments
Op-Ed in The Oregonian
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I have been getting a lot of "fan" mail recently from very liberal groups chastising me for voting in a bipartisan manner in Congress the past two weeks. I thought that they, and you, deserved an explanation of what we voted on and why I voted the way I did.

The single biggest issue I heard about in the last election was that Congress needed to stop the partisan rhetoric and work together.  Given the overwhelming Republican majorities in Congress, I was skeptical about my opportunities to vote on bipartisan legislation this year.  I was pleasantly surprised when four of the five major bills that Republican leadership put on the House floor had bipartisan support last year.  The new bill to grant approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the 40-hour work week Affordable Care Act (ACA) revision, the Dodd–Frank financial reform fixes, and the Regulatory Accountability Act all had significant Democratic support last Congress and again this year.   

Contrary to far left media assertions, none of these bills ends environmental protections on the Keystone pipeline, leaves millions without health insurance, guts financial reform or prevents agencies from making regulations necessary for our health and welfare.

The Keystone bill moves the pipeline off the aquifer; runs next to an existing pipeline; met the State Department's original environmental review and Nebraska's concerns; takes many dangerous oil trains off the tracks and provides tens of thousands of American construction jobs.  The argument six years ago that oil would not be extracted or moved without the pipeline has proven false.  With the oil's inevitable drilling, why not have it create some middle class jobs in America?

The financial reform package passed this week included 11 bills from the last Congress. When a nearly identical package of legislative proposals was considered by the House last year, 95 Democrats—nearly half the Democrats in the House—voted in favor of the bill. As someone who has repeatedly supported financial reform and helped write sections of Dodd–Frank, I assure you the key protections which prevent risk to you will still be in place should this legislation become law.

In the case of the ACA fixes, 40 hours has always been a full work week, not 30 as the ACA states. Those employees who work fewer than 40 hours can get more generous subsidies on the individual market to cover their health care costs if their employer chooses not to cover them.

And finally, the Regulatory Accountability Act merely asks that federal regulators take into account the economic impact of regulations costing more than $100 million. Removing overly burdensome regulations, on businesses large and small, means entrepreneurs can make the necessary investments to grow and hire more folks.

I will continue to work with Republicans when given reasonable opportunities.  There is no one true ideology I will adhere to when it comes to helping Oregonians get jobs and making our country prosperous.  That is what I was elected to do.  

Rep. Kurt Schrader represents Oregon's fifth congressional district.

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