Wasting no time, Republican lawmakers plan to file legislation in both chambers on Tuesday to green-light the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline -- as the new, Republican-led Congress begins its term.
House GOP leaders announced that their bill, authored by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., will come for a vote on Friday.
"By passing this bill in the House and Senate with bipartisan votes, we can help provide the political muscle the president needs to finally approve this piece of critical transportation infrastructure, which will contribute thousands of jobs to the national economy and further our push toward national energy security," Cramer said in a statement.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., with support from Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, is introducing the bill on the Senate side. The legislation is effectively the first major order of business for the 114th Congress.
Republicans, and some Democrats, have long pushed for approval of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which is caught in a State Department and judicial review process. Republicans are eager to use their new majority in the Senate -- and bigger majority in the House -- to send a bill to President Obama's desk.
The White House, though, would not say Monday whether Obama would veto the legislation.
"I'm not prepared at this point to issue a veto threat," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, adding the White House would have to see the language first.
He reiterated that Obama believes the pipeline would have a "nominal impact" on gas prices and has concerns "about the impact it could have on carbon pollution."
Earnest urged lawmakers to allow the protracted administrative process to play out, rather than circumventing that with legislation. "We don't want to put the cart before the horse here," Earnest said, noting that a judge in Nebraska still hasn't ruled on the pipeline's route.
Pro-Keystone lawmakers tout the project as a jobs engine that could help the country's energy security. They downplay the environmental and health concerns that drive the project's critics.
A Senate committee plans to hold a hearing on Hoeven's bill on Wednesday.
As first reported by Politico, Senate Democrats already are proposing possible amendments to the bill. Among them are amendments requiring U.S.-produced materials be used for the construction, and requiring that "for every job created by the pipeline, an equal or greater amount of jobs is created through clean energy investments," according to Politico.
Prior efforts to force approval of the Keystone project through Congress, when Democrats controlled the Senate, have failed. But Republicans are taking control of the Senate with a 54-46 majority. They would only need a half-dozen Democrats to join them to have a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority.
It remains unclear whether they would be able to muster a two-thirds majority to beat back a presidential veto.