For the ninth time in six years, the U. S. House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline on Friday largely on party lines. Â The vote was 252-161. Â It is believed that Republicans are two votes shy of the sixty needed to avoid a fillibuster before passage in the Senate.
If the bill makes it to Obama’s desk, a veto is almost guaranteed. Â Barack Obama would prefer to make any decisions on the pipeline after the State Department finishes a study which is contingent on a Nebraska court ruling on environmental impact. Â The State Department is involved because the pipeline crosses an international border.
This particular bill was passed based on an agreement between the parties for political reasons. Â Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is facing a run-off in December. Â Holding onto her seat is essential for Democrats in the face of massive losses in the 2014 midterm elections resulting in a majority change in the Senate. Â Democrats from energy producing states among others have indicated they will vote for the measure. Â From the New York Times:
As of Friday morning, advocates of the pipeline said that 59 senators had signaled that they would vote in favor of the bill, including Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virgina, Jon Tester of Montana, Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado. Mr. Bennet is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and is leading efforts to help Ms. Landrieu win the December election.
Far from being over or decided if the legislation dies in the Senate – again – this particular issue will be revisited when the State Department finishes its work and Obama has no more excuses to avoid a definitive answer. Â The Keystone XL Pipeline would be an addition to over 2 million miles of oil pipeline in operation within the United States. Â At this point, it is simply a symbol of environmental prestige. Â Passage of similar bills in the new year, after the next Congress is seated with increased numbers of Republicans in the majority is all but assured.