By Laura Barron-Lopez - 01/06/15 11:12 AM EST
Legislation introduced Tuesday in the Senate to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline has 60 co-sponsors, the amount needed for a filibuster-proof majority.
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 (R-N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrat vows to go after opioid makers – including daughter's company Overnight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Democrat defends daughter after tough EpiPen grilling MORE (D-W.Va.) introduced the bill, which would immediately greenlight the $8 billion oil sands project.
Hoeven and Manchin said 63 senators have indicated support for the bill, which gives them a comfortable margin as they seek to work through the amendment process and move the legislation to President Obama's desk.
The likely three additional Democrats who have indicated support are Sens. Bob CaseyBob CaseyDems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare Enough bickering, time to stay focused on important issues: Pennsylvania holds keys in Clinton-Trump tilt MORE Jr. (Pa.), Tom CarperTom CarperOvernight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare Overnight Finance: Trump promises millions of jobs | Obama taps Kasich to sell trade deal | Fed makes monetary policy video game | Trump vs. Ford MORE (Del.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate rivals gear up for debates Grassley pulling away from Dem challenger The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Colo.), who all voted to approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline in November.
Hoeven and Manchin said they welcome to amendments the bill offered by the Democratic caucus and pushed Monday by Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSaudis hire lobbyists amid 9/11 fight Consumer bureau remains partisan target after Wells Fargo settlement Overnight Healthcare: Planned Parenthood deal in sight in Senate | A new 'public option' push MORE (D-N.Y.).
“I am encouraged that the Keystone XL pipeline project will come to a vote on the Senate floor as one of the first pieces of legislation for the 114th Congress,” Manchin said. “We have everything to gain by building this pipeline, especially since it would help create thousands of jobs right here at home and limit our dependence on foreign oil."
The outcome of the amendment votes could affect the overall support for the legislation, but new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump slams Obama for ‘shameful’ 9/11 bill veto GOP chairman lobbies against overriding Obama on 9/11 bill Black Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to let the process play out. Hoeven said he was told by GOP leadership that a vote on the measure might not come for weeks, due to the open amendment process.
Manchin said he was working on reaching out to the White House about the bill and expected to talk to administration officials later on Tuesday.
The White House on Monday declined to say whether Obama would veto a bill approving Keystone.
"We'll see what the legislation actually includes before we start urging people to vote one way or the other," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, adding that he wanted to "reserve judgment" until the administration could "actually see what language is included in that specific piece of legislation."
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Keystone bill on Wednesday, and a markup on it the following day, setting up Senate vote as early as next week.
Opponents of the pipeline are planning to attend the hearing in full force to protest the Senate vote. Greens have also said they will continue to put pressure on Democrats like Carper and Bennet who recently voted in favor of the pipeline.
Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer slammed Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio) and McConnell for making the Keystone bill the first item of business for the new Congress.
“Speaker BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have charted their course. They’ve decided to place support of their Big Oil backers above the interests of the American people—supporting a pipeline that would pump oil through the United States and out to foreign countries around the world," Steyer said.
"The Keystone XL pipeline is a bad deal for the United States and an even worse deal for the future of our children, our environment, and our economy," he added.
Updated at 1:09 a.m.