Senate to vote on whether climate change is happening

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnell9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad States urged to bolster election security How the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he will allow the Senate to vote on an amendment asking if they agree that climate change is impacting the planet.

At his weekly press briefing, McConnell said "nobody is blocking any amendments" to legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

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The GOP leader had promised to allow an open amendment process on the Keystone bill. 

But a measure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had raised questions about whether he would stick to that commitment.

The Sanders measure asks whether lawmakers agree with the overwhelming consensus of scientists who say climate change is impacting the planet and is worsened by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. 

Democrats believe the measure could be a tough vote for some Republicans, particularly GOP senators running for reelection in 2016 in states carred by President Obama in 2012.

McConnell shot back at reports he might block the Sanders amendment, exclaiming "yeah" when asked if his caucus is prepared to take a vote on climate change.

"Nobody is blocking any amendments except the senator from California who is making us burn 30 hours to begin to have this bill up and open for amendments," McConnell said, referring to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

McConnell was referring to opposition from Boxer and Democrats to ending debate on a motion to proceed to the Keystone bill. A deal to end that debate was reached not long after his comments. 

"We are not anxious to block anybody's amendment, we are wide open. The Senate is out of practice here," McConnell addded. 

Sanders's amendment is one of many Democrats are looking to tack on to the controversial bill, which Republicans are eager to send to President Obama's desk. The White House has threatened to veto the Keystone legislation.

Other amendments from Democrats include a requirement for oil companies to pay into a spill cleanup fund, and to block exports of the oil shipped via the Canada-to-Texas pipeline out of the U.S.