WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today voted for the House-Senate compromise version of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which requires the president to make a national interest determination and approve the Keystone XL pipeline in sixty days and extends the payroll tax credit for another two months.
The bill also prevents a scheduled 27.4% cut in Medicare payments for physician services from taking place on January 1, 2012 and extends unemployment benefits for states with high unemployment rates. Both these provisions are authorized for two months.
On the Keystone XL Pipeline:
“At a time when we are facing a jobs crisis of enormous magnitude, it makes absolutely no sense for the president to stall a privately-funded infrastructure project that will create thousands of private sector jobs. This bill will force President Obama to either come on board or get out of the way of this job-creating project.”
“As I mentioned in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this week, a number of Keystone pipeline-related jobs are right here in Arkansas. We have seen the economic damages of the president’s indecision with Welspun Tubular Company’s announcement that they have already begun to lay workers off in their Little Rock facility that has been making pipe for the Keystone project. Postponing the start of the project is putting more Americans out of work instead of putting them to work.”
“White House delay of this project is a major step backwards for our goal of reducing our dependence on oil from unstable regimes. It also costs thousands of well-paying jobs when Americans need reliable employment. It is unfortunate that President Obama refuses to make a decision on this project without Congressional action forcing him to do so, but it is clear that he wants to postpone the decision so that he does not alienate his allies during an election year. That is not in the best interest of country when we are facing an 8.6% unemployment rate, which is why we are requiring President Obama to act on this ‘shovel ready’ project.”
On the payroll tax extension:
“My concerns about the negative impact extending the payroll tax reduction will have on the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund remain. However, this two month extension allows us to continue to offer relief to American workers while we work toward a serious long-term solution. If President Obama is serious about extending this relief beyond the two-months authorized in this bill, then he needs to understand that it cannot be done at the expense of retirees.”
On the prevention a scheduled 27.4% cut in Medicare payments for physician services:
“As a former Medicare provider, I can say without a doubt that the ‘Doc Fix’ is an issue that must be addressed in a long-term manner. Ensuring that health care providers continue to care for Medicare participants speaks to the very heart of the sustainability of the program. We cannot continue to punt this down the field and it is my hope that we can find a long-term solution before this temporary fix expires next February.”