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Land Swap Bill Could Help Paul Gosar for 2012

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

“The Speaker again has chosen the prudent course and said, ‘Look, we’re not gonna punish them, we’re not gonna make martyrs out of them, but maybe if there’s some major piece of legislation, maybe they’re not the person leading the floor fight on that major piece of legislation,’” Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) told Roll Call.

But Gosar vehemently denied that his willingness to back Boehner had anything to do with being chosen to lead the floor fight on a major piece of legislation, calling that idea a “fabrication.” And GOP leadership aides also said the timing of the floor time had nothing to do with Gosar’s cooperative spirit. “It’s a jobs bill,” one source said.

Allies say it’s Gosar’s hard work that’s behind the legislation succeeding now. “This is a guy who goes 500 miles per hour,” said one political consultant who’s been pushing the legislation for six years.

“I think he’s doing very well as a freshman Member,” Franks said.

The legislation still faces major hurdles, including fierce opposition from Congressional liberals and negative appraisals from the administration.

“There’s no net return to the taxpayer,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said, noting additional concerns about environmental reviews and consultation with local Native Americans.

Grijalva noted that Republicans had worked to boost Gosar’s profile with the legislation, but he predicted it would backfire.

“Kirkpatrick backed it, too. It didn’t help her at all,” Grijalva said. “He ran as a fiscal hawk. When taxpayers figure out what deal they’re getting here, he’s going to have some explaining to do.”

Proponents say the bill is a common-sense way to produce jobs in Arizona.

During House floor debate on the rule for the measure Tuesday, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the United States imports copper from several South American countries and could be using its own resources instead.

“We can either create jobs there or we can create jobs in Arizona,” Bishop said.

“This is an extremely important measure for the state of Arizona,” Flake said Tuesday on the House floor.

Grijalva and other opponents have noted that Resolution Copper, the company slated to construct the new copper mine if the bill is signed into law, is foreign-owned.

Grijalva offered an amendment in the Natural Resources Committee in July that would have required the company to hire only Arizona citizens to work at the mine, according to Cronkite News, an Arizona-based news website.

“How about BMW in South Carolina, for example? They only employ foreign workers? No!” Flake said in response to the argument. “Try to tell someone that finally has a paycheck to take home that that is not a real job.”

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