The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives defied a White House veto threat on Tuesday and passed a bill to expedite approval of the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas pipeline project.

The provision was part of a broader bill that would also extend a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans. Democrats oppose Republicans' efforts to link the two issues.

The House measure now goes to the Senate, where President Barack Obama's Democrats are expected to reject it later this week, setting the stage for anticipated compromise.

The mostly party-line vote of 234-193 in favor of the House bill came after a spirited debate.

Democrats accused Republicans of using the pipeline project, estimated to create at least 20,000 jobs, to hold "hostage" the tax break from 160 million Americans.

"I hope we can come to the table and share the view that this middle-income tax cut is worth doing without obstacles," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Republican Dave Camp said the bill is laced with job-creating provisions, including the Keystone one and another to provide tax cuts to businesses to invest in new equipment.

"This bill is about jobs, jobs, jobs," Camp said. "It will help get our economy back on track."