NEW GOP US CONGRESS SETS SIGHTS ON KEYSTONE, IMMIGRATION AND JOBS

FoxNews on December 31, 2014, reported that with control of the House and now the Senate, Republicans will return to Congress next looking for early victories on such key issues as immigration and domestic energy to set the tone for the next two years and position their party to win the White House in 2016. Excerpts below:

Incoming Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already made clear his first order of business is to pass a bill to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

The House could vote as early as next week on legislation to expedite pipeline construction, Fox News has learned.

Passing immigration reform will undoubtedly be more difficult for Republicans but would be a major step toward winning the Hispanic vote on the way to taking the White House.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham recently argued that Republicans winning the 2016 presidential race essentially hinges on the party using its newly-acquired congressional majority to deliver on the issue.

…midterm wins have given Boehner a historic majority and an additional 13 seats, complete with several handpicked winners,…

The House could also vote as early as next week on another Boehner priority — ObamaCare. The vote would be on a measure to define full-time work as 40 hours a week because some U.S. employers have cut employee hours to avoid the ObamaCare mandate on insuring full-time workers.

McConnell’s early legislative agenda remains unclear, considering he has declined to say publicly what will follow his Keystone initiative.

However, Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk told Fox News that McConnell has indicted “the second big vote” will be on more sanctions on Iran for failing to reach a deal with the United States and other Western nations on slowing its nuclear-enrichment program toward the apparent pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

Completing the pipeline — which would deliver crude oil from Canada and the American heartland to Gulf Coast refineries — has for Republicans become as much a symbolic victory as a win for their political agenda of increasing jobs and domestic energy.

The refined oil would go to the international market, not the United States, and the number of long-term, full-time jobs the project would create remains in dispute.

Keystone legislation languished under outgoing Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, until the waning days of the last Congress when he called a vote on the bill in a final attempt to help Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu get re-elected.

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