Senate panel advances Keystone bill in 13-9 vote

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday passed legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in a 13-9 vote, setting up a vote in the full chamber as early as next week.

The bill will be brought to the floor to begin an open amendment process by Monday or Tuesday.

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Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiIcebreaking ships are not America’s top priority in the Arctic 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE (R-Alaska), the panel's incoming chairwoman, condemned the administration for vowing to block legislation that would green light the $8 billion oil sands project 

"There is already a veto threat out there, but I don't think it should deter us," Murkowski said. "The country, but also the world, is watching the United States to see if we are ready to lead as a global energy superpower."

All Democrats on the committee minus Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Manchin up 9 points over GOP challenger in W.Va. Senate race Senate moderates push for meeting to discuss border crisis MORE (D-W.Va.) voted against the bill. Manchin is a co-sponsor of the legislation with Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border GOP senators want NAFTA deal from Trump by Labor Day Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-N.D.)

Ranking member-elect Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellEnergy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures OPEC and Russia may raise oil output under pressure from Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (D-Wash.) questioned Republicans' move to "prematurely intervene" in the permitting process by pushing the bill to the floor despite the veto threat.

"What is the emergency here for Congress to usurp process?" Cantwell asked.

She called the bill a "sweetheart deal" from Congress and said she would propose an amendment that requires corporations to pay into an oil spill trust fund.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Trump's America fights back The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE (I-Vt.) also offered an amendment that would record a sense of the Congress on climate change.

"It's simple, do we agree with the international scientific community that climate change is real, or do we not?" Sanders asked.

The measure is an attempt by Democrats to put Republicans on the record about their beliefs on climate change.

It and all other amendments were tabled by the committee to be brought up during debate when the bill comes to the chamber floor next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Ky.) called on the president to rethink his veto threat, after the Keystone bill passed out of committee.

"If the president is serious about supporting bipartisan infrastructure projects, he will reverse his veto threat and support these American jobs," McConnell said in a statement.

The White House argues the legislation would circumvent the ongoing State Department review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which is on hold due to litigation in Nebraska that questions the route of the pipeline.