WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2014 - A bill authorizing the go-ahead on the Keystone XL pipeline failed in the Senate Tuesday night by a single vote, saving President Obama from having to decide whether to veto the legislation, despite polls that show the project is broadly popular, or to allow it to go forward and anger environmentalists and many Democrats.
The vote was 59-41 with all 45 Republicans supporting the measure along with 14 Democrats, mostly from energy states. Backers needed 60 “yes” votes for the bill to move forward. Still, the legislation will get another, better chance in the next Congress when Republicans will be in the majority.
"This will be an early item on the agenda in the next Congress," incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, vowed after the vote.
The outcome was a body blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana who had sponsored the bill and pushed hard for support among her Democratic colleagues. Landrieu, who chairs the Senate’s Energy Committee, is facing a runoff election on Dec. 6 with Rep. Bill Cassidy and she was hoping the bill’s passage would show voters in her energy-rich state that she could deliver on important energy legislation.
GOP leaders had Cassidy sponsor the House Keystone bill, which was approved easily on Friday, 252-161.
"This is for Americans, for American jobs, to build an American middle class, and it will create 40,000 immediate jobs," Landrieu said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "If the people of this Congress haven't noticed, there's a long unemployment line in some parts of this country."
Opponent of the pipeline dispute that job figure and say the project, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada through the country’s midsection to refineries in Texas, would increase pollution and pose a threat to environmentally sensitive lands.
After the balloting, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., thanked the other 40 Democrats who said no to the legislation.
“I know the fight is far from over, but I’m proud of my colleagues today,” Boxer said in a statement. “We will continue working for a safe, clean, job-producing energy future.”
Obama, while stopping short of threatening a veto, last week made it clear that he was opposed to the legislation and that he wanted the government review of TransCanada Corp.’s project, now six years old, to go forward.
“Understand what this project is,” Obama said. “It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf [Coast], where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
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