House sends Keystone bill to Obama, defying veto threat

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2015 - A bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is headed to President Barack Obama for a certain veto after getting final congressional approval in the House on Thursday.

Democrats denied Republicans a veto-proof, two-thirds margin in both chambers, and GOP lawmakers have been discussing ways to attach the measure (S. 1) to some other piece of legislation.

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The House on Thursday voted 270-152 to approve the Senate-amended Keystone bill.

“We need job growth and not hypotheticals,” said North Carolina Democrat Alma Adams, pressing her party's argument that the pipeline would produce few new jobs once construction was finished. “We must be focused on clean energy and infrastructure jobs to create jobs and boost our economy.”

But Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said the bill was returned from the Senate with several amendments that ought to appeal to President Obama. One of the amendments, approved 98-1, made a “pretty strong statement” that climate change is not a hoax, Cramer said. Another non-binding amendment he cited said that the pipeline should be subject to a tax to fund an oil spill liability fund.

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Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., downplayed the importance of the climate-change amendment. “Let's be clear. The Senate Republican majority in the same breath rejected another amendment stating that climate change is caused by human activity.”

Cramer also took on the argument that the small number of jobs needed to operate the pipeline didn't merit approving the project. “Some people refer to them as temporary jobs. Referring to a pipeline project as temporary is like referring to a wind farm as only temporary,” he said.

The House originally passed its version of the bill, H.R. 3, Jan. 9 in a 266-153 vote. The Senate passed its amended version, the one approved by the House Wednesday, in a 62-36 vote on Jan. 29.

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