McConnell: Make me majority leader, I'll give you Keystone XL

Marking the sixth anniversary of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline's permit application, Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell threatens shutdown to keep corporate political spending secret This week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Funding fight dominates Congress MORE (R-Ky.) teased voters with a preview of what a GOP-controlled Senate would do.

"If American people give us the opportunity to be in a majority next year, I'll be setting the agenda," McConnell said. "It's easier to score if you're on offense, and the majority leader is offensive coordinator."

He added: "If we have a new majority next year, and a new majority leader, the Keystone pipeline will be voted on on the floor of the Senate, something the current majority has been avoiding for literally years."

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The promise should come as no surprise as Republicans have voiced constant frustration with the administration over the $5.4 billion project, which would carry crude from oil sands in Alberta to Gulf refineries.

Republican Sens. John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto Gitmo bill GOP senators fight female draft in defense bill Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (N.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE (Alaska), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Tribes open new front in fight over pipelines Pipeline delay stirs anger, but not yet action, on Capitol Hill MORE (Wyo.), John ThuneJohn ThuneWeek ahead in tech: Key test for FCC's TV-box plan Five takeaways from the new driverless car guidelines Overnight Tech: Pressure builds ahead of TV box vote | Intel Dems warn about Russian election hacks | Spending bill doesn't include internet measure MORE (S.D.) joined McConnell in marking the anniversary of Keystone's permit, which is currently in limbo at the State Department.

All 45 Republican senators also sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday, calling on him, yet again, to approve the pipeline, which they argue is "shovel-ready."

Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynThis week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Why Cruz flipped on Trump MORE (R-Texas) said, when asked by voters why the pipeline has yet to be approved, that he blames billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer.

"There is no good answer to this other than the ideological blinders that Sen. Barrasso was alluding to and the fact that Tom Steyer will come after any Democrat who votes for this because of his own ideological blinders," Cornyn said.

He added that, if given the majority, Republicans would pass Keystone XL, move on natural gas exports, and "have a robust debate about crude [oil exports] as well."

Environmentalists and liberal Democrats are adamantly opposed to the pipeline, arguing it would significantly contribute to climate change, as well as endangering the environment and homes along the project's route.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Spending fight shifts from Zika to Flint Black Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP MORE (D-Nev.) offered to have a binding vote on Keystone XL earlier this year as long as Republicans joined with Democrats in passing a major energy efficiency bill.

Republicans wouldn't budge, blasting Reid for blocking their energy amendments.