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.