Senate Approves Keystone XL Pipeline With 62 Votes

A bi-partisan majority of Senators voted to approve legislation to authorize the long-delayed Keystone pipeline project. All 53 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill, along with 9 Democrats (including North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp who voted for final passage of the bill despite playing some partisan games with amendments).

So what happens next? The bill goes to President Barack Obama’s office, once the House and Senate reconcile the differences in the bills the passed, and he has 10 days (not counting Sundays) to decide what to do with it.

His administration has indicated that he would veto the bill. To do that he sends the legislation back to Congress with a written explanation as to why he disapproves. Congress can then either override his veto with a 2/3’s majority in each chamber.

That’s 67 votes in the Senate, and Hoeven has said he has 63 of those votes. In the House, there were 266 votes to pass the Keystone legislation. It would take 288 votes to override the veto in that chamber.

So it seems unlikely that Congress could override a veto.

Obama could also choose not to sign the bill within that 10 days, at which point (as long as Congress doesn’t go out of session in which case we’d have a “pocket veto”) it would become law without his signature.

If Obama allows the legislation to become law, I’m guessing that’s how he’d do it.

If Obama vetoes the law, he’ll have to explain why he continues to roadblock this project despite multiple reviews by his own administration judging it to be safe, not to mention a bi-partisan majority of both houses of Congress (approach veto-proof majorities) which also approve.

But maybe the President doesn’t care about that sort of thing. It’s not like he ever has to get elected again.

Here’s Senator Hoeven’s comments about the passage of the bill:

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation authored by the senator to approve the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline project. The measure passed 62 to 36.

“Today, the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation I authored and introduced to approve the Keystone XL pipeline based on Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The administration has delayed this important infrastructure project for more than six years. Despite a series of environmental reviews, all of which conclude that the project will have no significant environmental impact, President Obama has repeatedly postponed a decision.

“Both the U.S. Senate and House have now passed legislation approving the Keystone XL project, and the American people have repeatedly expressed their support for it. In a recent poll, 65 percent of registered voters said they believe the president should sign our bill approving the pipeline, and only 22 percent believe he should veto it. In fact, public support for the Keystone XL pipeline has been consistently strong for years. At the end of last year, 68 percent expressed support for the project; in 2013, 70 percent expressed support for it; and in 2012, 67 percent said the project should be built.

“This is about energy, jobs, economic activity, national security, and building the right kind of infrastructure we need to achieve all of these things. The will of the American people and Congress is clear. I encourage the president to sign this legislation and work with us not only to build this vital infrastructure project, but also to help us develop a true comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy plan for our nation.

Here is Congressman Cramer’s announcement:

BISMARCK, N.D. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate approved legislation to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline:

“I am pleased with the result of today’s vote in the U.S. Senate. Their legislation, introduced by Senator John Hoeven, shares the same core language as my Keystone XL bill which passed the House earlier this month, but does include several amendments. I will be visiting with colleagues to determine whether we will go to a conference committee, or take up the Senate bill. Ultimately I believe we can provide the President with adequate political cover to finally put his signature on the project.”

On January 9, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Cramer’s bill to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, passed on a bipartisan majority with 238 Republicans and 28 Democrats voting in favor.

I’d post Senator Heitkamp’s comments as well, but she and her staff are so childish and petty that they refuse to even send me press releases.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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