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Keystone Pipeline's Connection To Payroll Taxes? It's Up For Debate

The Keystone XL pipeline is supposed to connect Canada to Texas. But does it also have to connect to a payroll tax holiday?

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, speaking today on NPR's Tell Me More, said no link should be made because the oil pipeline is not "germane" to legislation involving a tax holiday.

Republicans had made it a sticking point in December when they tied the controversial pipeline to legislation extending a 2 percentage point payroll tax break through the end of 2012. They approved the tax holiday, but only for two months — and with language forcing the White House to make a quick decision on the pipeline.

President Obama responded by halting the project that environmentalists hate.

Jarrett said the Republicans' action made no sense. "What did the pipeline have to do with extending the payroll tax in the first place?" She said help for taxpayers should not be weighed down "with other pieces of legislation that aren't germane."

But also in Washington, D.C., this morning, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican, was speaking at an event sponsored by The National Journal. Barrasso, who insisted on including the pipeline language in the payroll-tax legislation, said Keystone and the tax-break extension are bound together by the common thread of economic growth.

Obama wants to help the economy by boosting workers' take-home pay, and Republicans want to help the economy by increasing energy-related jobs, he said. But Tuesday night's State of the Union address offered no hope that Obama would changing his mind, Barrasso said.

The president's address was "a re-tread" that only repeated the past, Barrasso said. "It was a groundhog-day speech."

(Marilyn Geewax is a senior business editor on NPR's National Desk.)

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Restricted To 20-Day U.K. Visa

Ai says he was denied a six-month visa because U.K. officials said he didn't list a criminal conviction in his application. Ai was imprisoned in China, but he notes he was never charged with a crime.
NPR

Humans Aren't The Only Ones To Go Ape Over Diets: Chimps Detox, Too

A group of Ugandan chimps has found a great way to boost their mineral intake and neutralize bitter compounds in their diet: by eating clay.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - July 31, 2015

Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

NPR

Debris Found In The Indian Ocean May Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Investigators believe a piece of debris found on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean could be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014.

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