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House GOP pressures Obama on Keystone XL

In this Oct. 4, 2012 file photo, large sections of pipe are shown on a neighboring property to Julia Trigg Crawford family farm, in Sumner, Texas. (AP File)

House Republicans are moving to pressure President Obama to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the wake of a State Department report that found it would have a negligible impact on the environment.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to say how House Republicans might address the issue internally. He said no decisions have been made regarding whether to attach legislation to spur construction of the oil pipeline to a debt ceiling package. But Republicans strongly support the pipeline, and attaching it to legislation that increases the federal borrowing limit is seen as a possible way to corral GOP votes for such a politically unpopular but necessary measure.

That indecision aside, both House and Senate Republicans appear content to push the Keystone XL issue. To make their point, House Republicans on Tuesday distributed pre-printed flyers to reporters attending the House GOP leadership's weekly news conference that featured an Obama quote from April 2009: “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.”

“If we’re going to operate our government with sound science, it’s time for the president to act,” Boehner said.

Congressional Republicans have periodically attempted to bludgeon Obama with the Keystone XL pipeline. Much of the president's liberal base opposes the project and he has been reluctant to endorse it, although it might create thousands of jobs. It's not clear if the State Department report will motivate Obama to reverse course.

Meanwhile, Boehner said no decisions have been made on how House Republicans plan to proceed on immigration reform. At last week's annual policy and political retreat, House GOP leaders presented to their members a set of principles for overhauling U.S. immigration law this year.

There does not appear to be much momentum behind the effort as of yet, and one House Republican who attended Tuesday’s weekly closed-door caucus meeting said immigration and the debt ceiling were not widely discussed.