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
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 »
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
COULD SOW DIVISION AMONG REPUBLICANS
House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Source:
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DRUG FORFEITURE FUND
Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

Source:
TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN
House Passes Funding Deal
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."

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