White House Won’t Commit to Signing Omnibus, Waffles on Keystone Pipeline

Posted December 16, 2011 at 3:47pm

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined today to say whether President Barack Obama would sign the bipartisan omnibus spending package amid a “fluid” situation over talks to extend the payroll tax cut.

Carney also declined to say whether the president would veto the Keystone XL pipeline language demanded by Republicans alongside the payroll tax cut. The White House has previously tied getting a deal on the tax cut to the omnibus, with Carney saying Thursday that it was unacceptable for Congress to get its spending bill and go home without ensuring that Americans don’t face a tax hike on Jan. 1.

Carney said the White House has been “heartened” by both sides talking about reaching a compromise on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits and reiterated that Congress can’t go home without getting it done.

“We’re still midstream in this process,” he said.

The press secretary called the pipeline issue “pure politics” and said Republicans in Nebraska were the first to raise concerns about it. Carney said that because a new route in Nebraska has not been picked yet, the matter should go through the review process. But he repeatedly stopped short of saying the issue would force a veto.

“It’s not appropriate for me at this point to negotiate from the podium,” Carney said.

Carney expressed hope that Congress will reach a deal before going home for the year.

 “Hopefully we will reach a compromise that everyone can live with,” he said.