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 HoevenSenate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Bison declared national mammal MORE (R-N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Dem senator: Sanders ‘doesn’t have a lot of answers’ Groups urge Senate to oppose defense language on for-profit colleges 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 CaseyTen senators ask FCC to delay box plan Lawmakers blast poultry, meat industries over worker injuries GOP chairman sees funding deal soon on medical cures bill MORE Jr. (Pa.), Tom CarperTom CarperFinancial industry spars with retailers over data breach bill Week ahead: Cyber Command in the spotlight Lawsuit exposes M cybertheft through banking software MORE (Del.) and Michael BennetMichael BennetGOP Senate hopeful wants to go beyond Trump's Muslim ban Lawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill GOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' 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 SchumerSchumer touts policy victories over Obama administration Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding 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 McConnellIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo 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 BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ohio) and McConnell for making the Keystone bill the first item of business for the new Congress.
“Speaker BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns 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.