Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline

The veto marks the first high-profile clash between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans.

Keystone Pipeline
National Journal
Clare Foran
Add to Briefcase
Clare Foran
Feb. 24, 2015, 8:31 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama dealt a blow to Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers by veto­ing a top GOP pri­or­ity — a bill to ap­prove the Key­stone XL pipeline — send­ing it back to the Sen­ate, where an at­tempt to over­ride the veto will likely fail.

That veto, only the third ever is­sued by Obama, is ex­pec­ted to ush­er in a new era of hos­tile con­front­a­tion between the pres­id­ent and the Re­pub­lic­an Con­gress. It also marks the latest twist in a years-long saga over the oil-sands pro­ject, an icon­ic sym­bol at the cen­ter of a con­ten­tious de­bate over Amer­ic­an en­ergy se­cur­ity, oil prices, and glob­al warm­ing.

Obama re­it­er­ated his prom­ise to veto le­gis­la­tion green-light­ing the con­tro­ver­sial oil-sands pipeline be­fore the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s years-long re­view of the pro­ject has played out.

“The Pres­id­en­tial power to veto le­gis­la­tion is one I take ser­i­ously,” Obama said in a state­ment ac­com­pa­ny­ing the veto. “But I also take ser­i­ously my re­spons­ib­il­ity to the Amer­ic­an people. And be­cause this act of Con­gress con­flicts with es­tab­lished ex­ec­ut­ive branch pro­ced­ures and cuts short thor­ough con­sid­er­a­tion of is­sues that could bear on our na­tion­al in­terest — in­clud­ing our se­cur­ity, safety, and en­vir­on­ment — it has earned my veto.”

Re­pub­lic­ans on Cap­it­ol Hill have vowed to keep press­ing for Key­stone’s ap­prov­al des­pite the veto. Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell said on Tues­day that the Sen­ate will at­tempt to over­ride the veto, a vote that Mc­Con­nell said would take place no later than March 3.

There do not ap­pear to be 67 votes in the Sen­ate to over­ride the veto, but Re­pub­lic­ans have prom­ised to tie the pro­ject to fu­ture en­ergy le­gis­la­tion or must-pass spend­ing bills that Obama would be hard-pressed to re­ject.

“Even though the pres­id­ent has yiel­ded to power­ful spe­cial in­terests, this veto doesn’t end the de­bate. Amer­ic­ans should know that the new Con­gress won’t stop pur­su­ing good ideas, in­clud­ing this one,” Mc­Con­nell said in a state­ment.

Tran­sCanada, the Ca­na­dian com­pany seek­ing to build the pipeline, de­clared it “re­mains fully com­mit­ted to Key­stone XL des­pite today’s veto of bi­par­tis­an le­gis­la­tion in sup­port of the pro­ject.”

The veto also isn’t the last time Obama will weigh in on Key­stone. The pres­id­ent still needs to make a fi­nal de­term­in­a­tion on the pro­ject. White House press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est would not say Tues­day when that will hap­pen.

“The re­view is be­ing con­duc­ted by the State De­part­ment, so you can get an up­date from them,” Earn­est said.

Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry must weigh in on the pipeline be­fore the White House can make a fi­nal de­cision. Kerry told Na­tion­al Journ­al on Tues­day that he could not provide a con­crete timeline for a de­cision from the State De­part­ment.

“I don’t know. I have so much on my plate right now. I can’t tell you,” Kerry said.

Obama has in­dic­ated in re­cent months that he does not be­lieve Key­stone would provide much be­ne­fit to the United States. But Earn­est said the veto will not rep­res­ent a view­point on the pro­ject, and he re­it­er­ated that Obama is veto­ing the bill be­cause it cuts the on­go­ing fed­er­al re­view short.

“It cir­cum­vents a long-stand­ing ad­min­is­trat­ive pro­cess for eval­u­at­ing wheth­er or not in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects like this are in the best in­terest of the coun­try,” he said at the daily White House press brief­ing.

Earn­est af­firmed that Obama could still de­cide to green-light the pipeline.

“[Ap­prov­al] cer­tainly is pos­sible. This pres­id­ent will keep an open mind as the State De­part­ment con­siders the wide range of im­pacts this pipeline could have on the coun­try, both pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive, so we’ll see what hap­pens,” he said.

Ben Geman contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
CALLS FOR ‘NO CRS”
Trump Floats Support for Nuclear Option in Senate
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
MORE AGENCIES TO FURLOUGH WORKERS
Senate Can’t Reach Deal on Shutdown, Will Try Again Monday
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate on Sunday failed to reach agreement on a plan to fund the government through Feb. 8, postponing the vote until noon on Monday. "While lawmakers angled to score political points or shift blame, most agencies planned Monday to begin executing orderly shutdown procedures, per guidance from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney."

Source:
TRUMP CANCELS FLORIDA TRIP
Congress Heads Back to Work to End Shutdown
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate was expected to be back in session at noon, while House lawmakers were told to return to work for a 9 a.m. session. Mr. Trump on Friday had canceled plans to travel to his private resort on Palm Beach, Fla., where a celebration had been planned for Saturday to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office."

Source:
CLOTURE FAILS
Government Shutdown Begins, as Senate Balks at Stopgap
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"A stopgap spending bill stalled in the Senate Friday night, leading to a government shutdown for the first time since 2013. The continuing resolution funding agencies expired at midnight, and lawmakers were unable to spell out any path forward to keep government open. The Senate on Friday night failed to reach cloture on a four-week spending bill the House had already approved."

Source:
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN SUSPICIOUS CHECKS FLAGGED
Mueller’s Team Scrutinizing Russian Embassy Transactions
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login