White House issues formal Keystone veto threat

The administration on Wednesday issued a formal veto threat to legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

One day after a spokesman for the White House said the legislation would trigger a veto, the administration released a formal statement announcing its intentions. 

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"If presented to the president, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill," the administration said of legislation the House is set to vote on Friday. The Senate could vote on the bill as soon as next week.

The White House argued the bill could circumvent a process led by the State Department that governs approval of a pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

"In doing so, it would cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest," the administration said in a Statement of Administration Policy. "The bill also would authorize the project despite uncertainty due to ongoing litigation in Nebraska."

Petitioners in that state are challenging the route of the pipeline. 

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest indicated the president would veto any legislation that aims to bypass the current review process for the cross-border oil sands pipelines.

"If this bill passes this Congress the president wouldn't sign it either," Earnest said Tuesday, alluding to previous attempts by Congress to authorize the $8 billion project which were subsequently shot down.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump flirts with Dems for Cabinet Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington Confirm Scott Palk for the Western District of Oklahoma MORE (R-Ky.) fired back at the veto threat, calling it a sign the president is being "anything but productive."