The Senate Has a Filibuster-Proof Pro-Keystone XL Majority

President Obama’s veto may be the last hurdle for measures aimed at guaranteeing the pipeline’s approval.

Keystone Pipeline
National Journal
Clare Foran
Add to Briefcase
Clare Foran
Nov. 4, 2014, 8:24 p.m.

The Keystone XL pipeline won big Tuesday night.

Following an election night that saw anti-Keystone Democrats replaced by pro-Keystone Republicans, the oil-sands pipeline project now appears to have at least 60 supporting votes. That means legislation forcing approval of the long-delayed project may be headed to President Obama. Before the election, at least 57 senators could be counted on to support pro-Keystone legislation, but that was never enough to beat a filibuster from the project’s opponents.

Tuesday night’s results appear to change that.

Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat who has voted against the pipeline’s approval. Republican Rep. Cory Gardner defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who has also previously voted against the project. In Iowa’s Senate race, Republican Joni Ernst will take the seat previously occupied by anti-Keystone Democrat Tom Harkin. And in South Dakota, Republican Mike Rounds will take the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who has wavered in his support for legislation that would guarantee the project’s approval, saying the decision to approve or deny the project should be left to the administration. 

And none of the 57 seats that were held by pro-Keystone lawmakers were surrendered to anti-pipeline newcomers.

Keystone’s Senate champions were watching the whip count Tuesday and came away enthused: “This really drives home the overwhelming support we have for Keystone. I think you’re going to see us bring up energy legislation right away and Keystone will be one of the first things we pass,” said Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.

House Republicans have all the votes they need to approve pro-Keystone measures and indeed did so on several occasions last Congress. So in the Congress to come, it appears that—absent a change of heart or unexpected Senate exit from one of the project’s supporters—the last hurdle to Keystone legislation is a veto from Obama.

The White House has previously threatened to veto legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House to approve Keystone. In 2013, the president threatened to turn back a House bill that would have green-lit the project—arguing it interfered with what should be an administrative decision—but that measure died in the Senate.

The pipeline’s fate has long sat with Obama’s State Department, which has authority over the project due to its international ramifications (the pipeline would connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refiners and consumers). The president has said he will only approve Keystone XL if it does not significantly add to carbon emissions in the atmosphere. A State Department review of the project in January found that it would not, a conclusion touted by the project’s supporters but criticized by its opponents.

What We're Following See More »
FIRST CHARGE FOR MIDTERMS
DOJ Charges Russian For Meddling In 2018 Midterms
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."

Source:
TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH NORTH KOREA
U.S. Cancels Military Exercise With South Korea
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

The United States and South Korea have suspended "another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea 'every opportunity to continue.'" Exercise Vigilant Ace, which last year "involved 12,000 US troops and some 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea," was due to take place in December. Trump has canceled other operations in the past, which Gen. Robert Abrams said "had resulted in a 'slight degradation' to the readiness of US and Korean troops," but were a "prudent risk" to improve improve relations with Pyongyang.

Source:
STILL SKIPPING "DAVOS IN THE DESERT"
Mnuchin to Attend Saudi Terror Financing Meeting
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans. The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend."

ACCUSED OF HIDING DOCUMENTS ABOUT NASSAR'S ABUSE
Ex-USA Gymnastics CEO Indicted For Tampering With Sexual Assault Evidence
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence" in the sexual assault case against disgraced USA gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was found guilty in January of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Penny, who was arrested on Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas," where much of Nassar's abuse occurred.

Source:
HE MAY NOT AUTHOR A LARGE, SWEEPING NARRATIVE
Public May Not See Mueller Report
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

Defense attorneys involved in the Mueller probe say the public "shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths. ... Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day."

Source:
×
×

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