Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., challenged President Biden’s labor secretary nominee Marty Walsh regarding the administration’s plans for the economy and the decision to halt work on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Biden signed an executive order putting a stop to the pipeline and costing an estimated 11,000 jobs, approximately 8,000 of them being for union workers. The administration’s main talking point has been that as the U.S. pivots to a more climate-friendly economy, more new jobs will be created. Cassidy challenged Walsh by addressing what will happen between now and when those jobs are created.
“Will those jobs be available tomorrow?” Cassidy asked. Walsh started to respond by stressing the need to quickly implement Biden’s American Recovery Plan, but Cassidy push forward with his point.
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“The Keystone XL jobs are gone today,” Cassidy said. “Actually, last week. The jobs you’re describing are in the by-and-by, hopefully within a year, more likely longer than that.”
Cassidy then asked if it was true that the union workers who are now out of work would be unable to pay into their pension and retirement funds. Walsh confirmed that this was true and that if someone does not work in their industry they do not get pension or retirement credit.
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Looking to Biden’s American Recovery Plan, Cassidy asked if the plan will make up for what these workers are losing. Walsh claimed that it would more than do that. He said pipefitters, iron workers, laborers, carpenters, plumbers, and more will all have opportunities in the economy being created by Biden’s climate-focused policies.
Cassidy questioned what the timeline for this will ultimately be, noting that the money for these jobs has yet to be appropriated by Congress and these workers need to pay their bills now. He also asserted that the overall effect of Biden’s policies will be detrimental to the environment because oil and gas will still be used for years to come, and now it will be up to other countries that do not live up to U.S. environmental standards to produce it.
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“I applaud the efforts to employ those tradesmen and women on other types of activities, but we are being disingenuous if we don’t recognize the impact it has upon them right now. They face poverty because of an executive order that will increase global greenhouse gas emissions.