Reid: Democrats will kill Keystone amendment

Reid’s comments came just hours before the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to transportation legislation that would force approval of the pipeline. The amendment requires 60 votes for passage.

The majority leader stressed that President Obama opposes the GOP amendment, but does not oppose the pipeline itself.

“So the president has not come out saying, 'I oppose Keystone,' ” Reid said. “He opposes doing it in the manner that's been jammed down our throats.”

Republicans pounced Thursday on a report that Obama personally pressed Senate Democrats to reject the Keystone amendment. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Obama is “lobbying against American jobs,” arguing that approval of the pipeline will boost the economy and create thousands of jobs.

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"The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday when asked about Obama's phone calls, noting that an alternative route through an ecologically sensitive area of Nebraska has not yet been determined.

"Despite claims that this pipeline would somehow solve the pain at the pump today, the company has said it would take years before a single drop of oil would flow through the pipeline."

Carney stressed that Obama's January decision to reject a key permit for the Keystone pipeline was not based on the merits, but instead on a GOP-backed, 60-day deadline included in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut.

"The president obviously has communications with members of Congress with some regularity,” Carney said, calling GOP efforts to approve the pipeline “purely ideological and political.”

“We have made these points very clear. We will continue to make these points very clear and we certainly expect that Congress will, at least we hope, act in an appropriate fashion.”

Alexander Bolton contributed to this story.