One Vote Short, Keystone Bill Fails to Pass in Senate

The Vision

capitolIn a move that spared President Barack Obama from using his veto powers, a bill to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline failed to get enough votes on Tuesday, November 18, in the US Senate.

Lack of Key Votes for Keystone

The legislation fell just short of the 60 votes needed to pass it, despite frantic last-minute lobbying by supporters, including some from the Democratic Party. Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) Hail Mary to get enough votes fell short after only 59 senators voted for the bill, one vote short of the 60 needed to clear a filibuster. Landrieu faces a runoff election on December 6 and was looking to add the Keystone pipeline to her list of accomplishments.

The tally on TransCanada Corp’s $8 billion pipeline project was 59 to 41, with all 45 Republicans supporting the bill. Only 14 of 55 Democrats and allied independents voted in favor of building the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, a total that didn’t improve despite an appeal by Landrieu behind closed doors just hours before the vote.

The vote is one of the last acts of this Democrat-controlled Senate, as a new, Republican-controlled Senate will take over next year.

 Republicans, however, did not lose hope, as they said a pipeline replay with a potential to clash with Obama and his veto powers would be coming—and soon.

Keystone Replay

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said within minutes of the vote, “I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the new year.”

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Obama opposed the construction of the pipeline as he wants the State Department to first finish its review of the project. He said he won’t approve the project if it significantly raises the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Obama recently made a pact with China during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit where both countries agreed to an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions.

If the measure passed in the Senate, the president was widely expected to use his veto powers, one he has used only three times in his six years in office. During a trip to Asia last week, Obama raised new questions about the pipeline, saying it would not lower gas prices in the US. It would only allow Canada to “pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.”

‘Not Giving Up’

Seeking her fourth term and with her political career in jeopardy, Landrieu told reporters, “I’m going to fight for the people of my state until the day that I leave, and I hope that will not be soon.”

Landrieu’s Republican opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, were on the same side, saying Louisiana families “need better jobs, better wages and better benefits,” and the pipeline would provide them.

Despite the loss, Landrieu was optimistic. “There’s no blame, there’s only joy in the fight,” she told reporters.