Senate to vote on pipeline
WASHINGTON (AP) – Long-stalled legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas got new life after Senate Democrats suddenly abandoned efforts to block the measure in hopes of winning the last unresolved Senate race from the midterm elections.
Senate passage of the bill as early as next Tuesday would force President Barack Obama to either sign it into law or veto the measure just weeks after devastating Democratic losses in the November 4 elections. Obama has delayed a decision on the pipeline, which environmentalists maintain would have a negative impact and contribute to climate change.
Senator Mary Landrieu of energy-rich Louisiana, facing an uphill fight to hold her seat in a December 6 runoff, called for the vote on approving the pipeline project. Republicans responded swiftly, scheduling a vote in the House today on an identical bill sponsored by her Republican rival, Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Republicans and several moderate Democrats insist that construction of the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs.
The pipeline is critical to Canada, which needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production, and the Obama administration’s delays have caused friction between the two countries.
The White House stopped short of directly threatening a veto, but spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama takes a “dim view” of legislative efforts to force action on the project. Earnest reiterated Obama’s preference for evaluating the pipeline through a long-stalled State Department review.