In the Weekly Republican Address, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison calls on Senate Democrats to finally move small business jobs bills with overwhelming bipartisan support that they've been stalling on. Sen. Hutchison also discusses rising gas prices and laments the Obama administration's energy policies slowing down oil and gas production in the United States.
Sen. Hutchison says, "We have six months before the elections and there is much we could accomplish -- much on which we can agree. But the President should send his message to the Senate Democrat leadership. For example, three of my Senate colleagues and I last week reiterated our call to have the Senate consider four bills that would make it easier for smaller companies to expand and hire. The key to moving from a monthly trickle of jobs to a tidal wave of growth is getting obstacles out of the way of our small businesses -- they are our job creators. The four measures that we have brought forward would remove outdated barriers to raising private funds for expansion and new hiring. Each of these bills has already passed the House with more than 400 votes -- large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats. Each bill has also been endorsed in concept by the President. And yet, these bills have been bottled up for months in the Democrat-controlled Senate."
She continues, "President Obama also noted this week that Americans are concerned by 'the rising cost of gasoline.' They certainly are. Gasoline prices have almost doubled in just three years -- and it's getting worse. Last February, the average cost of a gallon of unleaded was $3.17 per gallon -- the highest February price ever. But this February's average is $3.57 per gallon -- and all forecasts are for prices to rocket above $4.00 per gallon during the summer driving season. Families and businesses will be devastated. President Obama's own Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, has said, and I quote: 'Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.' Well, this Administration is certainly trying their best to do that.
"We can't slow down global demand for oil and gas, but we can do a lot more here at home to assure that we have the energy we need and to halt skyrocketing costs. But, President Obama's policy has resulted in an unprecedented slowdown in new exploration and production of oil and gas. Offshore drilling permits are being issued at less than half the rate of the previous administration. The average number of leases issued on public lands is less than half than during President Clinton's term. Not only will the slowdown in domestic production drive up fuel prices, it also takes away jobs from tens of thousands of oil industry workers.
"The same is true for the Keystone pipeline. It would produce thousands of good-paying construction jobs and tens of thousands more at U.S. refineries and suppliers. That pipeline would assure the U.S. of 830,000 barrels of needed oil daily -- not from halfway around the world, but from our friend to the north, Canada. After four years of environmental reviews and regulatory approvals, the Obama Administration is still stalling. If we wait, the Canadians have indicated they can ship their oil to China, and a huge opportunity will have been lost."
Sen. Hutchison concludes, "Our message to the President is: We can keep going. Thirteen million unemployed Americans can't wait until after this year's election -- or next year's baseball season. We ask the President to help get a bipartisan jobs bill through the Democrat-controlled Senate and for an energy policy that puts American workers and their families first."