Prospects that the Senate would vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline disintegrated Wednesday.
The possibility of a vote was always unclear and depended on whether Democrats and Republicans could reach agreement over amendments to an energy bill that had been moving in tandem with the Keystone bill. But as the week wore on and Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted to changing his opposition to a vote, the chances that a vote would occur seemed favorable.
That changed Wednesday afternoon.
Reid took to the floor to make an offer to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: If the energy bill, sponsored by Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, passed, then he would allow a binding vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. McConnell countered with an offer of his own. He wanted five Republican amendments, including one of his own, on the energy bill.
Each then rejected the other's offer.
That, for now, appears to signal the end of the Senate's consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, sponsored by Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota and Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
A vote on the energy bill is still on the agenda for later in the week, but its fate, now that Reid will not allow GOP amendments, is murky. Lawmakers expected that bill to pass on its own, but the amendment process is a lingering issue for Republicans, who claim that Reid blocks them from offering even germane measures on pending bills.
For her part, Shaheen, who spoke on the floor after Reid and McConnell, held out hope that lawmakers could still reach an agreement over amendments that would allow the process to move forward.
This article appears in the May 8, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.
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