Mary Landrieu Is Still One Vote Short on Keystone

Ahead of a vote to green-light the oil-sands pipeline, the Louisiana Democrat looks just shy of a filibuster-proof majority.

Keystone Pipeline
National Journal
Nov. 14, 2014, 7:33 a.m.

Up­dated Tues­day, Nov. 18, 2014.

Mary Landrieu is one vote away from achiev­ing a polit­ic­al dream.

With 60 votes, the em­battled Louisi­ana Demo­crat could se­cure a fili­buster-proof ma­jor­ity to ap­prove the Key­stone XL pipeline when a bill she has sponsored au­thor­iz­ing the pro­ject comes to the Sen­ate floor next Tues­day.

But Landrieu does not ap­pear to have 60 votes—at least not yet. And des­pite ex­press­ing con­fid­ence that she’ll pre­vail, Landrieu ap­peared stuck a single vote shy on Tues­day morn­ing.

For months, it has looked like there are at least 57 Sen­ate votes in sup­port of the long-stalled pro­ject, which would trans­port heavy crude from Canada’s oil sands to re­finer­ies along the Gulf Coast. Last week, that count rose to 59.

The pickups are Demo­crats: Sens. Thomas Carp­er of Delaware and Mi­chael Ben­net of Col­or­ado.

Carp­er is a def­in­ite “yes.” A spokes­man for the sen­at­or told Na­tion­al Journ­al that Carp­er “has pledged his sup­port for the Ho­even-Landrieu le­gis­la­tion.”

Landrieu told re­port­ers on a call Fri­day that Ben­net is also ex­pec­ted to vote in fa­vor of the bill. 

But that still leaves the sen­at­or one vote shy of the 60 votes she needs to block a fili­buster.

Whip watch­ers have been eye­ing Demo­crat­ic Sen. Chris­toph­er Coons of Delaware in hopes that he might join the “yes” camp. But a spokes­man for the sen­at­or told Na­tion­al Journ­al that Coons “plans to vote against the straight au­thor­iz­a­tion bill” be­cause he be­lieves the de­cision is the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s to make.

Key­stone back­ers had also hoped to ex­tract a “yes” from Demo­crat­ic Sen. Bill Nel­son of Flor­ida. But Nel­son’s of­fice told Na­tion­al Journ­al the sen­at­or will vote “no” next week. Nel­son sup­ports the pipeline but would only vote to au­thor­ize the pro­ject if the le­gis­la­tion guar­an­teed that oil sent through the pipeline would not be ex­por­ted. The bill up for con­sid­er­a­tion does not in­clude an ex­port ban. 

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Ud­all of Col­or­ado will also vote to re­ject the le­gis­la­tion, a spokes­man for Ud­all told Na­tion­al Journ­al.

In­de­pend­ent Sen­at­or An­gus King of Maine an­nounced Tues­day that he op­poses the le­gis­la­tion, say­ing that “Con­gress is not — nor should it be — in the busi­ness of le­gis­lat­ing the ap­prov­al or dis­ap­prov­al of a con­struc­tion pro­ject.”

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Cory Book­er of New Jer­sey said on Twit­ter Sat­uday that he will vote against the bill. 

A spokes­man for Demo­crat­ic Sen. Chuck Schu­mer of New York, who had pre­vi­ously been si­lent on how he would vote, said Monday that Schu­mer will vote “no.”

A spokes­man for Sen. Robert Men­en­dez of New Jer­sey told Na­tion­al Journ­al on Monday that he will vote “no.”

Sen­at­or Tammy Bald­win, a Demo­crat from Wis­con­sin, said Monday she will also op­pose the bill. 

Demo­crat­ic Sen. Jay Rock­e­feller told re­port­ers on Monday that he will vote against the le­gis­la­tion. 

Back­ers had also been eye­ing Demo­crat­ic Sen. Carl Lev­in of Michigan as a pos­sible “yes”. Lev­in told re­port­ers at the Cap­it­ol on Monday, however, that he plans to vote “no.” 

Landrieu re­mains un­deterred. Landrieu told re­port­ers at the Cap­it­ol on Monday that she feels com­fort­able she has 60 votes to se­cure pas­sage of the le­gis­la­tion adding that she might even have more than 60 votes. She de­clined to say which Sen­at­or she is count­ing on to de­liv­er the 60th vote. “You nev­er know about these things,” she said in the Cap­it­ol. 

The Louisi­ana Demo­crat is hop­ing that Key­stone ap­prov­al could give her a boost back home, where she faces a tight run­off race against Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Bill Cas­sidy.

Even if Landrieu reaches the 60-vote threshold, however, the White House has hin­ted it may veto the bill.

Pres­id­ent Obama told re­port­ers in Burma Fri­day that he would not look kindly on le­gis­lat­ive at­tempts to “short-cir­cuit” the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s on­go­ing re­view of the pro­ject.

The pres­id­ent has long said he will ap­prove the pipeline only if it does not sub­stan­tially add to the amount of car­bon di­ox­ide in the at­mo­sphere. The White House is also await­ing a re­com­mend­a­tion from Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry on wheth­er to green-light the pro­ject. 

But a Key­stone XL bill is cer­tain to cross the pres­id­ent’s desk. If not next week, then next year.

The Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled House passed a bill ap­prov­ing the pipeline Fri­day on a 252-161 vote. And soon-to-be Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has vowed to pass le­gis­la­tion ap­prov­ing the pro­ject. When he does, the Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate will have a fili­buster-proof ma­jor­ity in sup­port of Key­stone XL.

Jason Plautz and Ben Geman contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
Mueller Made 14 Criminal Referrals
8 hours ago
The Report Is Here
15 hours ago
Nadler Asks Mueller to Testify By May 23
16 hours ago
Barr OK With Mueller Testifying
16 hours ago
Report Finds 10 Episodes of Potential Obstruction
16 hours ago

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.