Harry Reid Floats Keystone Vote — but What Is He Really Offering?

None

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) leaves the Capitol building on October 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. Congress continues to struggle to find a solution to end the government shutdown, which is currently in its 13th day. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
National Journal
Jason Plautz
April 29, 2014, 1:43 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans may get their long-awaited vote on the Key­stone XL pipeline as early as next week as part of the de­bate over an en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill. But will it be the vote they want?

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id opened the door to a vote on the con­tro­ver­sial oil-sands pipeline Tues­day as part of the de­bate on the Shaheen-Port­man en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill. “I’m open to any­thing that will move en­ergy ef­fi­ciency,” Re­id said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about a vote on the pipeline.

Sen. John Ho­even, the North Dakota Re­pub­lic­an who’s been at the front of the Key­stone ap­prov­al push, said he’s been dis­cuss­ing a vote on con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al for the pipeline, not a looser sense-of-the-Sen­ate res­ol­u­tion. A non­bind­ing res­ol­u­tion on ap­prov­al or on an ex­ped­ited timeline would have been ac­cept­able un­til Pres­id­ent Obama “changed the ballgame” by delay­ing the dead­line for re­view of the pipeline’s per­mit, he said.

Re­id told re­port­ers Tues­day that he’s had con­ver­sa­tions with Ho­even and fel­low pipeline boost­ers Rob Port­man, a Re­pub­lic­an, and Demo­crat Mary Landrieu in the last 24 hours about pair­ing a Key­stone vote to the en­ergy bill. However, he left open how bind­ing that vote could be.

“They keep mov­ing the ball,” Re­id said. “You know, ori­gin­ally it was go­ing to be sense-of-the-Sen­ate; now they can’t de­cide on what they want to vote on. So I can’t agree to something that I don’t know what it is.”

A non­bind­ing Sense of the Sen­ate solu­tion — which already gathered 62 votes on last year’s budget — does not seem ac­cept­able to Re­pub­lic­ans. In a state­ment, Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said: “It’s easy to talk the talk, but it’s time for all mem­bers to walk the walk on the Key­stone XL pipeline.”

Re­pub­lic­ans also took to the floor Tues­day af­ter­noon to dis­cuss their sup­port of the pipeline, which would bring hun­dreds of thou­sands of bar­rels of oil a day from Al­berta’s oil-sands pro­jects to the Gulf Coast.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hamp­shire, one of the spon­sors of the en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill in ques­tion, said there’s been no agree­ment yet on the amend­ment pro­cess for the meas­ure, which is ex­pec­ted to come to the floor next week. It’s un­clear if the Key­stone vote would be an amend­ment to the bill or brought up as a stan­dalone, but Ho­even said that it must be at­tached to the en­ergy bill in some form.

As he pushes to 60 votes, Ho­even said he has nearly all Re­pub­lic­ans on board and a hand­ful of Demo­crats, with six or sev­en “maybes.” However, it’s less likely that he will be able to garner 67 votes to over­come a pres­id­en­tial veto — leav­ing a vote in any form as largely sym­bol­ic.

COR­REC­TION: Sen. John Thune’s state was in­cor­rect in an earli­er ver­sion of this story.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
2 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×