Senate to Vote on Keystone XL Pipeline

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

Senate supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction are today jostling to lock up the 60 votes needed to pass the bill ahead of the vote slotted for around 6 pm this eveining.

The House on Friday passed legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline with 31 Democrats voting yes. It marked the 9th time the House approved the construction.

Lame duck Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid is finally allowing a vote on the Senate floor today, with the runoff between incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy less than 3 weeks away.

The votes come as both candidates aim to bolster their commitment to the booming oil and gas industry in the state of Louisiana, though the proposed pipeline won’t cross the state.

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has long been a major talking point in her campaign. But Bloomberg today reported that Landrieu stood silent at about 70% of committee hearings since January 2009.

All 45 GOP Senators are expected to support the bill’s passage, and 14 Democrats have previously expressed approval.

With the unofficial tally at 59, Sen. Landrieu, who introduced the bill in the Senate, voiced confidence that Keystone XL will get at least 60 supporters in the Senate tonight, but refused to disclose who the 60th vote might be.

But even if the Keystone XL vote clears Senate, because the proposed pipeline would cross international borders, a Presidential permit is required.

The White House continues to indicate that the President isn’t on board.

At least not yet.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today brushed off questions regarding a Presidential veto should the bill pass. Instead, Earnest emphasized holding off until the Nebraska Supreme Court rules on the path of the pipeline in the state, a position the administration has held since April of this year. The court decision is expected anytime from late November to early February.

Earnest also continued to stress the State Department’s ongoing inquiry into Keystone XL’s national interest, involving the conjunction of eight other federal agencies announced in April.

But in what was thought to be the State Department’s final review back in January, they concluded that there would be no significant environmental harms. Additionally, they predicted the project would generate 42,100 jobs and about $3.4 billion to US GDP.

Still, President Obama continues to express his skepticism, arguing that it wouldn’t “have an impact on U.S. gas prices” and that the pipeline’s effect on global climate change is still in question.

Tune into Special Report tonight as we report live on air as the Senate’s votes are tallied. 

Early Ballots Favor Republicans in Colorado, But Less Clear in Georgia

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

In a strict party-line vote last year, the Democrat-led state legislature opted to push Colorado to a largely mail-in ballot system in an effort to boost voter turnout. While the Republicans, including the secretary of state, opposed the measure due to the burden it would place on county clerks and the postal service, they’re not exactly complaining today.

According to numbers released by the Colorado Secretary of State, nearly 1.4 million votes have already been cast. Of the voters, 41% are registered Republicans, 33% are registered Democrats, and about 26% are unaffiliated. Election officials expect slightly over 2 million votes to be cast by 7 pm Tuesday night.

However, history tells us that these numbers may not be as indicative as Republicans would hope.

2010 Colorado early ballot numbers were nearly identical:  of 1.2 million voters who cast early ballots, 40.7% were registered Republicans, 34.6% were registered Democrats and 24% were unaffiliated. Despite the apparent early Republican lead, Democratic candidate (and current Colorado Senator) Michael Bennet went on to defeat Republican candidate Ken Buck by just under 30,000 votes.

And while the polls have given Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Corey Gardner, a slight but consistent lead over the past month, Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Udall still has reason to hope he will  hold on to his seat.

Unaffiliated voters commonly cast their ballots later than party-affiliated voters. Additionally, it seems reasonable to assume that a significant amount of younger voters would take advantage of the provision to surrender their mail-in ballots and vote in person at the polls on Tuesday. Both constituencies largely favor Udall in the polls.

In Georgia, early ballot numbers are even less revealing.

Nearly 1 million early ballots were cast in Georgia, up more than 20% from 2010. But without a party registration system in the state, pollsters are left relying largely on demographics.

Coming into Election Day, President Obama and the First Lady often appeared on African-American radio shows, urging the base to get out and vote.

Of the early voters in Georgia, 32.8% were African-Americans—an initial good sign for Democratic candidate for Senate, Michelle Nunn.

However, an exit poll revealed that a majority of these African-Americans were already likely voters, simply opting to cast their votes early.

The poll also revealed that 93% of these early voters were 45 and older.

“It is doubtful that the African-American turnout will continue to be this high, which favors the Republicans, and it’s doubtful that the electorate will skew this old, favoring the Democrats” the pollster Fredrick Hicks said.

While the poll gave Republican candidate for Senate, David Perdue, a slight lead, the race is still neck and neck. The Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford may very well garner just enough votes to force a runoff in January.


We’re gearing up for a long, but lively night here at the Fox News Channel. As exit polls began to trickle in, be sure to tune into FNC at 6 pm as Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly anchor the on-the-ground coverage and in-studio expert analysis of all the battleground races. 

Gardner Closes the Gap in Colorado

By: David Bastawrous- Special Report College Associate

While you may not have uttered the “my dad is better than your dad” quip since your days on the school playground, don’t put it past Colorado’s political playground. Anything goes in this high stakes race as Republican Rep. Cory Gardner seeks to oust Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.

The Wall Street Journal argues that Colorado’s Senate candidates are vying for an electorate composed of voters who decide presidential elections: suburban women, an increasing Hispanic population, and a plurality of unaffiliated, independent voters. In fact, of the past 6 presidential elections, Colorado chose the Republican and Democratic candidate 3 times each, and 5 of whom went on to become the President.

Jon Caldera of the Independence Institute, a Denver based libertarian think tank, labeled this a true kitchen table-issue election. A recent Suffolk/USA Today poll suggests that voters pinpoint jobs, healthcare, and national security as priority issues.

Though it didn’t take long before Democrats aimed to cast Gardner as a republican of the Todd Aiken ilk. A July ad put out by the Senate Majority PAC accused Gardner of trying to “redefine rape.” Udall’s team also blasted Gardner for co-sponsoring a federal Personhood Amendment that would effectively outlaw abortion. But in March, Gardner said he was “not right” and “can’t support personhood” after the realization that the bill would outlaw certain forms of birth control. He also clarified his support for exceptions of rape, incest, and life of the mother to his pro-life position.

But back in July, Patrick Davis, a Colorado Republican consultant, suggested that Udall went too negative too early, “pulling out an October tactic in July,” he said. And he just may have been right.

While Sen. Udall kept a slight, but consistent lead throughout the summer, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball recently moved Colorado from “Lean’s Democratic” to “Toss Up”. All indicators show that momentum is swinging Gardner’s way. Though the Real Clear Politics average has Gardner up by just 0.6% (a statistical tie), they write, “the race seems to have closed and Gardner now has a slight lead.”

And the biggest thorn in Udall’s side: President Obama. During a Sept. 6 debate, Udall said, “Let me tell you, the White House, when they look down the front lawn, the last person they want to see coming is me.” But it may be the other way around. When President Obama flew up to Udall’s turf in Colorado to host a fundraiser in July, Udall elected to stay in Washington. The Real Clear Politics average shows Colorado with a 54% disapproval to 41% approval rating of the President. And while Gardner repeatedly claims that Udall has “voted with President Obama 99% of the time,” Udall has made clear efforts to distance himself away from the President, but maybe in the wrong direction.

Sen. Udall criticized President Obama’s plan to carryout airstrikes against ISIS, a decision that the American people overwhelmingly support.

On the other two aforementioned issues pinpointed by Colorado voters, healthcare and jobs, public opinion bears more bad news for Udall.

55% of Colorado voters say that Obamacare has been bad for Colorado, while only 37% would disagree. In yesterday’s debate, Udall said that he would vote for Obamacare again, touting the 400,000 now on the Colorado exchange and that the uninsured in Colorado dropped from 17% to 11%. Gardner, on the other hand, mentioned the 340,000 health insurance cancelations due to the law and argued that 2.5 million jobs were lost because of the law. Though Udall attacked Gardner for voting to repeal the law over 50 times without suggesting with what to replace it.

In a state with a booming oil and natural gas economy, energy has emerged as a key issue. A poll conducted in March showed that the majority of Colorado voters support the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. Gardner noted this in yesterday’s debate and argued that it would bring thousands of jobs to Colorado. Udall expressed environmental concerns and said that Gardner exaggerates the economic benefits of the project.

Still, this race remains as close as any in the country. 50 million dollars could be spent to court a state with a population of just 5 million. This race may very well decide who controls the Senate and may indicate the national mood for an early look at 2016.

For interviews with both candidates and more on the race, be sure to tune in to Special Report tonight as Bret reports live from Denver. 

Fox News: Pick 6

Republicans need to pick up six net seats to flip control of the Senate. So, which SIX seats do Republicans have the chance to win, to take control back of the Senate? 


Chris Stirewalt's Fox News First is keeping track of all the top races and we will bring you the latest on Special Report.

Visit Fox Pick 6 Webpage at and viewers can email their own picks to:

Should the federal minimum wage be raised?

Senate Democrats are considering a bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to as much as $10.10 an hour over two years.  


The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009 and for tipped workers it has not changed from $2.13 for 20 years. Many people feel an increase is long overdue and that it is a must in order to provide a fair living wage.


Fast-food workers in 100 U.S.. cities organized protests  calling for wages of $15 an hour just this week and McDonald's workers at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum were joined by more than a dozen lawmakers.


The White House recently announced President Obama's support for the bill, but not everyone agrees.  Some argue that a higher minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs in the long run.


So..what do you think? Share your thoughts and be sure to watch Melissa Francis' take on our Facebook page:

AP Photo

Senate Dems win vote to change filibuster rules invoking "nuclear option"

Senate Democrats win vote -- 52-48 -- to change filibuster rules, weakening the minority party's power to block nominations.

For context:

Just a reminder what was at stake here was the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations and judicial nominations but not include the Supreme Court. Under the precedent just set by Senate Democrats, these nominations will only require a simple 51-vote majority to clear the Senate.

This vastly reduces the power of the minority in the chamber, taking a way a key tool that senators can use to extract additional information from the administration (even then Sen. Obama used holds on executive nominees for leverage in the case of an EPA lead paint rule) and also making it easier for non-SCOTUS judges to get lifetime appointments

Thank you to Capitol Hill Producer Kara Rowland (@kararowland) for keeping us informed on Capitol Hill!

"Nuclear Option" Changing Senate Filibuster Rules Could Come Thursday

Breaking: Gunshots reported on Capitol Hill

Message that staffers have received on Capitol Hill:

SHELTER IN PLACE.  Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill requiring all occupants in all House Office Buildings to shelter in place.  Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows.  Take annunciators, Go Kits and escape hoods; and move to the innermost part of the office away from external doors or windows.  If you are not in your office, take shelter in the nearest office, check in with your OEC and wait for USCP to clear the incident.  No one will be permitted to enter or exit the building until directed by USCP. All staff should monitor the situation. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.


Message from Senate Sergeant-at-Arms:

There have been shots fired reported. There is no indication that there is a threat in the building. Stay in your offices with your doors locked. 

General Petraeus' Resignation

News of CIA Director David Petraeus resignation came as a shock today as rumors spread on Twitter and across the internet that the four-star general had an extramarital affair. General Petraeus, serving more than 35 years in the United States Army, submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama just days before he was set to testify in the Benghazi hearings on Capitol Hill. The Senate Intelligence Committee says he will no longer testify--


President Obama accepted the resignation and said his “thoughts and prayers” were with General Petraeus and his wife.


Do you believe that the Benghazi attack played any role in General Petreaus’ resignation? Let us know your thoughts here on the blog and on Twitter @BretBaier.



Coming Up

Don't miss New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie tonight on Special Report.

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