Early this morning, the U.S. Senate voted to extend the payroll tax cut by two months. The deal, passed in a 89-10 vote, heads to the U.S. House for consideration next week. Failure to pass the payroll tax measure would affect approximately 800,000 Idahoans, translating to approximately half-a-billion dollars
Attached to the bill is a provision to speed up a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipleine, giving the Obama White House 60 days to go on record for or against the XL.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are still trying to push through their own version of a payroll tax measure that includes a construction mandate for the Keystone pipeline.
The XL would transport oil from Canada's tar sands production facilities in northern Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Texas. Environmentalists complain that the pipeline route could threaten Nebraska's Sandhills region and vital Ogallala acquifer. The U.S. State Department has final authority on approving the pipeline.