House, with fewer Democrats, affirms support for Keystone in highway bill

The House went on record Friday to insist that lawmakers negotiating a bicameral transportation programs funding bill include approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The non-binding 261-152 vote signals political support for the pipeline in the lower chamber, but fewer Democrats went on record this time as supporting the project in the transportation bill.

Twenty-six Democrats voted Friday for Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE’s (D-Ga.) motion to instruct negotiators to uphold the House-approved language that authorizes the pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries.

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In April, 69 Democrats supported the House transportation bill — a tally that GOP leaders have cited when urging inclusion of Keystone in the final House-Senate deal on a transportation package.

However, a number of Democrats said at the time that they had voted for the bill as a way to enable House-Senate negotiations to begin.

The Senate’s version of the transportation bill omits approval of the Keystone pipeline.

The White House has threatened to veto the House version of the bill, claiming more time is needed to review TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline, a project at the heart of election-season battles over energy policy.

The 261 backers for Barrow’s motion signal that Keystone supporters don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto.

Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyLawmakers prep for coming wave of self-driving cars Trump taps Hill veteran for White House environment job Dems unveil push to secure state voting systems MORE (D-Mass.) after the vote dismissed the resolution as political posturing by Keystone supporters, saying it “put an exclamation point” on the GOP’s well-known support for the pipeline.

Markey, who opposes the pipeline, said there is a “very small” chance the Keystone pipeline would find its way into the final highway bill. He called Friday's vote good for Democrats, noting that Barrow's motion drew fewer Democratic supporters than the overall transportation bill that included the pipeline.

The House also approved a motion to instruct House conferees to accept Senate language that includes various "Buy American" provisions. That motion, from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE (D-W.Va.), passed 245-169.

— Pete Kasperowicz and Andrew Restuccia contributed

— Updated at 1:22 p.m.