Keystone Vote Stalls in Senate

Leaders fail to agree on amendments, which could mean the end for the bill.

Canada's leaders hope the U.S. approves the Keystone XL Pipeline, and they've been outspoken about it in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
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Michael Catalini
May 7, 2014, 11:21 a.m.

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.

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