WHEELING - Rep. David McKinley blames much of Congress' failure to pass meaningful legislation on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's refusal to bring more than 350 bills passed out of the House up for consideration, he said during a Tuesday visit to Wheeling.
McKinley, R-W.Va., called on Reid, D-Nev., to allow the Senate to engage in meaningful discussion on those bills - including more than 40 related to jobs and economic development - that have been passed in the House, many of them with bipartisan support, yet remain on the majority leader's desk awaiting action.
"I know we can't get votes on everything," McKinley said. "But at least honor the efforts of the House. Don't ignore them."
One example, McKinley said, is a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. He believes enough senators support the project to pass the measure, which could put pressure on President Barack Obama to sign it into law.
"Give it to the president. See what he does," McKinley said. "I think he'd sign it.
"I don't think the president's ever had to veto a bill, because the president controls Harry Reid," McKinley added. "Harry Reid doesn't bring up anything that's controversial."
Obama has used his veto power twice: Once in 2009 and once in 2010. But one has to go back to Martin Van Buren to find a president who vetoed fewer bills while serving at least one full term in office.
McKinley also said Republicans need to do a better job getting the message out to the public that increasing government regulations - the Environmental Protection Agency's crackdown on carbon emissions from power plants, in particular - are costing America jobs with comparatively little health benefits.
He pointed to the EPA's 2013 decision to tighten its average standard for fine particles in the air from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms. During a speech to the Wheeling Rotary Club on Tuesday, McKinley said that's equivalent to filling the Empire State Building with ping-pong balls and removing one of them.
McKinley said he's spoken with medical professionals who find indoor air quality a much greater concern, and while he doesn't support government intrusion into private homes and businesses, he believes it demonstrates that the Obama administration is pushing an ideology that ignores common sense.
"It's simplistic to say outdoor air quality is making people sick when they spend 90 percent of their life indoors," McKinley said.
Opposition to EPA mandates isn't about supporting a pro-coal agenda, according to McKinley - it's about recognizing the impact government regulation has on private investment. He recalled the controversy over the EPA's retroactive revocation of a permit for the proposed Spruce Mine in Logan County, W.Va.
"Think about the chilling effect that has. ... To put money into a plant and then two years, four years, six years down the road, the EPA says, 'You know, I changed my mind,' and pulls the permit," McKinley said. "It's not about coal. It's about how government operates."
McKinley, who is facing Democrat state Auditor Glen Gainer in his November re-election bid, said he's pleased with how the campaign is going. He said the campaign is receiving broader support than ever before, and he continues to spend as much time as possible meeting with constituents in his district.
However, he pointed to the surprise primary election defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - whose internal polls showed him with a 30-point lead over challenger Dave Brat just a week before the vote - goes to show that nothing should be taken for granted.
"We feel pretty good," McKinley said. "We can't do much more than we've done."