Max Baucus, "the one-man caucus," pressured on Keystone pipeline



Montana voters know all about power Sen. Max Baucus and his influence on key national issues. In 2001, he (in)famously crossed party lines and voted in favor of President Bush's tax cuts. A few years ago he stood in opposition to single-payer healthcare reform and helped usher in a more complex, and some argue less effective, alternative.

The senior senator holds significant power as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and The Hill reports Republicans are now trying to use that standing to push through another controversial policy decision.

Republicans are pressing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to buck his leadership and use his authority in the payroll tax conference to green-light the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The Keystone XL would run from Alberta's tar sands, through Montana, all the way to the Gulf Coast. Montana's entire delegation has supported the pipeline, including Baucus, despite concerns from conservationists and high-profile protests. President Obama, who's been torn on this election-year issue, rejected the current proposal Jan. 18.

According to The Hill, Baucus has the juice to make the whole thing happen. The article mentions his past voting record, and his pledge to make the pipeline a 2012 priority.

Republicans say Baucus, as co-chairman of the payroll tax conference, has the power to include Keystone language in must-pass legislation and will pressure him to act.

“The quickest and surest way to get the pipeline going is for the Democratic chairman of the conference committee to put it into a must-do piece of legislation, the payroll tax package,” said a senior Senate Republican aide.


A Baucus aide said the lawmaker would try to get the Keystone project started using whatever tools or legislative vehicles are at his disposal, including the payroll tax bill, available.

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