The battle over the Keystone XL pipeline could flare up again in Congress. And maybe soon.
Sen. John Hoeven said Wednesday that backers of the oil-sands pipeline are weighing efforts to attach the project to debt-ceiling legislation or another must-pass bill.
“We would try to attach it to something that [President Obama] would not veto,” Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican and outspoken advocate of the project, told reporters in a briefing.
He said legislation to raise the debt ceiling, which lawmakers will consider in the coming weeks or months, is an option. Influential GOP Rep. Paul Ryan has also floated this idea. “There has already been discussion of that as a possibility,” Hoeven said.
But even some Keystone backers bristled at the notion in an earlier debt-ceiling battle.
And the political strategy has not been finalized. “There’s any number of bills that we have talked about but we would have to see,” Hoeven said.
Hoeven noted that “the first thing is to get [Obama] to make a decision.” But a spokesman for the senator later said, “If the [White House] continues to delay indefinitely, we will pursue a legislative solution prior to a decision.”
There’s some precedent for trying to tether a Keystone provision to high-stakes fiscal legislation.
In late 2011, Congress attached language to payroll-tax-cut legislation setting a deadline for a Keystone permit decision, prompting Obama to reject the pipeline and invite developer TransCanada to reapply (which they did).
Hoeven held a pro-Keystone briefing Wednesday with a pair of senior Canadian officials: Gary Doer, the ambassador to the United States, and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.
The briefing was part of a larger push for the project Wednesday on Capitol Hill. The two Canadian officials held a separate briefing with Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Heitkamp warned that the longer the Obama administration’s decision-making process drags on, the more support there will be in Congress to take action on the pipeline.
“We’re concerned about missing yet again another construction season on the northern part of the pipeline, so as we get closer to losing that opportunity I think you’re going to see more and more discussion in the United States Senate about moving Keystone unilaterally or without a decision from the president,” she said.
Keystone has majority support in both chambers.
Hoeven won 62 votes on a pro-Keystone amendment during a budget debate last March, although a few Democrats later claimed that they hadn’t really cast an outright pro-pipeline vote.
The proposed pipeline, which has been under Obama administration review for years, would bring crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. It would also carry some oil from North Dakota’s booming Bakken region.
Backers — including major business groups and a number of unions — call it a way to boost energy security and create jobs.
Environmental groups and some Democrats (the caucus is divided) oppose the project, calling it a catalyst for carbon-intensive and ecologically harmful oil-sands projects.
But a draft State Department analysis last March found that either approving or rejecting the project, contrary to environmentalists’ claims, would have very little effect on the rate of oil-sands production expansion.
Keystone opponents are pushing State to reverse that finding in the final analysis that could be released shortly. Obama has said he will not approve Keystone unless he’s confident that the pipeline would not “significantly exacerbate” carbon emissions.
What We're Following See More »
Colony Capital Founder Tom Barrack spoke on Donald Trump's behalf at the Democratic National Convention last week. But as the Washington Post learned, his company pulled out of Trump's Old Post Office project. The two companies issued a joint statement when the project was announced. But as a Colony spokeswoman told the Post, “Colony exited the joint venture after the project’s timeline became too long for the firm. As the project evolved, cheaper sources of capital for longer term investment became available to Trump." The Trump Organization is now financing the project through their own cash and a loan from Deutsche Bank. It's scheduled to open Sept. 12.
Thirty-five years after he tried to kill President Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. has been freed. "A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has granted a request for Hinckley to leave the mental hospital where he's lived for decades, to go live full-time with his elderly mother in Williamsburg, VA. The release could happen as early as next week, the judge ruled. Under the terms of his order, Hinckley is not allowed to contact his victims, their relatives or actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. Hinckley also will not be permitted to 'knowingly travel' to areas where the current president or members or Congress are present. The judge said Hinckley could be allowed to live on his own or in a group home after one year.
“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” started Bill Clinton. In his speech Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton brought a personal touch, telling parallel stories of his relationship with Hillary Clinton and the work she has done throughout her career. He lauded the Democratic nominee for her career of work, touching on her earliest days of advocacy for children and those with disabilities while in law school, her role as Secretary of State, and her work in raising their daughter, Chelsea. Providing a number of anecdotes throughout the speech, Clinton built to a crescendo, imploring the audience to support his wife for president. "You should elect her, she'll never quit when the going gets tough," he said. "Your children and grandchildren will be grateful."
A coalition of mothers whose children lost their lives in high profile cases across the country, known as the Mothers Of The Movement, were greeted with deafening chants of "Black Lives Matter" before telling their stories. The mothers of Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin spoke for the group, soliciting both tears and applause from the crowd. "Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to comfort a grieving mother," said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. "And that's why, in the memory of our children, we are imploring you — all of you — to vote this election day."
With the South Dakota delegation announcing its delegate count, Hillary Rodham Clinton is officially the Democratic nominee for president, surpassing the 2383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Clinton is expected to speak at the convention on Thursday night and officially accept the nomination.