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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell suggests Russian sanctions action unlikely in September Democratic leader gives boost to criminal justice reform compromise 15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees 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 Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Big Oil’s carbon capture tax credit betrayal MORE (N.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCollins, seen as possible swing vote, set to meet with Kavanaugh This week: Senate tries to avoid landmines on massive spending bill The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) MORE (Alaska), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBarrasso secures GOP nomination in Wyoming Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report — Trump casts energy, land policies as gifts to red-state voters Governor races in spotlight as Wyoming, Alaska head to polls MORE (Wyo.), John ThuneJohn Randolph Thune15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up GOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work 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 Cornyn15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees Sen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies 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 Mason ReidWith lives at stake, Congress must start acting on health care GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape Battle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest 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.