FEATURED:

56 senators back new Keystone bill

 


Keystone XL supporters on Thursday introduced legislation they said was backed by 56 senators that would immediately greenlight the controversial oil pipeline.

"I have 56 hard yeses," Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller MORE (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill with Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE (D-La.), told reporters Thursday.

"Beyond that I've got six or seven maybes. Our challenge is going to be to get to 60 votes," he said.

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Eleven Democrats are among the 56 senators backing the bill, which would immediately give pipeline developer TransCanada the green light on a permit to begin construction of Keystone XL, according to a release from Landrieu's office.

Democrats discussed the issue during a meeting on Thursday, and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) expressed optimism a deal would be reached to allow a vote.

"There's a 70-80 percent chance we can work something out on Keystone," he said Thursday. 

Earlier this week, Reid said he wanted to bring an energy efficiency bill to the floor, but Republicans are trying to have a larger debate on energy issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (Ky.) said Republicans aren't interested in a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate vote on Keystone, which would not have any legal effect. The Senate voted on a similar nonbinding measure last year.

Hoeven said the vote on the Keystone bill won't be tossed aside.



"This is not something that is going to be delayed," Hoeven said. "It either has to be a part of the energy efficiency bill, or immediately following it."

Hoeven said he doesn't expect an agreement to be reached on a Keystone vote before the energy efficiency bill hits the Senate floor next week.

And while Republican leaders have said they would rather see a Keystone XL amendment than a stand-alone vote, Hoeven said he doesn't think its a "deal-breaker."

Landrieu says she wants a vote on stand-alone legislation, and seemed adamant Thursday that anything else was out of the question.

"The decision has already been made — we are moving forward on a vote on Keystone, and we are going to move forward on the energy efficiency bill," Landrieu said.



The bill will likely get severe pushback from the White House, Hoeven said.



“That is exactly what happened before,” he said. “At that time, we had more than 60 votes. By the time they were done, they actually pushed us down below 60. I don’t know if they’ve started that effort yet.”

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate rejects Trump immigration plan Cramer to announce North Dakota Senate run on Friday Senate Democrats not sold on bipartisan immigration deal MORE (N.D.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE (N.C.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   MORE (Mont.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments MORE (Va.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate rejects Trump immigration plan MORE (Ind.) and John Walsh (Mont.) are the 10 other Democrats backing the bill with Landrieu.

Keystone proponents would need another four Democrats to sign on to the bill to reach a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes. They will likely focus on attracting Delaware’s Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump states would bear brunt of gas tax increase: conservative groups Trump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax Senate bill would let EPA implement global greenhouse gas deal MORE and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE, and Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school MORE (Fla.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetColorado senators pitch immigration compromise Colorado senators mark Olympics with Senate hallway curling GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (Colo.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems hit stock buybacks in tax law fight Dem senator warns Mueller against issuing Russia report near 2018 election Dem praises gay US Olympian who feuded with Pence MORE (Penn.).

But congressional sources told The Hill that Nelson and Johnson would vote no on a binding Keystone measure to avoid getting ahead of the administration's process.

Coons is another no-go on a binding bill.

"Senator Coons believes the law makes clear that it's up to the administration to make permitting decisions like this one. He's frustrated with how long it's taking for a decision to be made, but doesn't think it's Congress' role to be issuing construction permits," Coons spokesman Ian Koski said in an email on Thursday.

When asked on Wednesday which way he'd vote, Carper wouldn't be pinned down, signaling the difficulty Keystone advocates will have rallying votes if it comes to the floor next week.

This story was last updated at 5:51 p.m.