Senate GOP unable to get veto-proof margin on Keystone

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2015 - Senate Republicans failed to get a veto-proof margin on a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline but pledged to tack the measure onto other energy legislation.

The Senate approved the bill, 62-36, with the support of nine Democrats, but 67 votes would be needed for the two-thirds margin required to overcome a veto.

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The final vote came after marathon sessions in which the senators debated dozens of amendments, including one that Democrats proposed to force Republicans to go on record as to whether climate change was a “hoax" or not. The amendment, approved 98-1, said climate change was real.

Before the Keystone legislation (S. 1) can go to the White House, the House will have to agree to changes made in the Senate or else negotiators would have to agree on another version. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he expected the legislation to get to President Obama “very quickly.”

The bill's GOP supporters argued that the extended debate over amendments, which also included proposals on such issues as the Endangered Species Act, exports of LNG, and renewable energy, was valuable in and of itself.

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“I think we're starting to get back to regular order, the idea that you can have an open amendment process,” Hoeven said. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the votes on amendments allowed members to identify potential allies on various energy and conservation issues - “someone you can work with to build a coalition.”

 

Among the amendments that failed was one  by Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, to delist the lesser prairie-chicken from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The 54-44 vote was well short of the 60 votes it needed. Another sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., attempted to put the Senate on record in favor of a five-year extension of the production tax credit for wind energy. It was defeated, 47-51. All but three Republicans opposed he amendment. Iowa's GOP senators split, with Charles Grassley, supporting it but Joni Ernst opposed.  

 

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