Keystone marathon begins in Senate

The Senate on Tuesday began what is expected to be a weeks-long debate over the Keystone XL pipeline by holding a trio of amendment votes.

Out of the three amendments proposed, only one — Republican Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  Lobbying world Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary MORE's (Ohio) trimmed down version of an energy efficiency bill — passed, in a 95-4 vote.

Two other amendments proposed by Democrats — one that would have banned the export of oil shipped through the Canada-to-Texas pipeline and another that would have required the project be built with U.S. steel — were killed by the Senate.

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Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate votes to save net neutrality rules MORE (D-Mass.) slammed Republicans, claiming they "blocked" his amendment on oil exports and used a procedural move to “table” the amendment and halt debate.

Republicans shot back that a motion to table simply means the Senate as a whole doesn't think the amendment should get a vote.

The confusion pointed to the difficulty senators might have in transitioning back to “regular order,” where legislation is amended on the floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Parkland father calls out Trump, McConnell, Ryan after Santa Fe shooting MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to allow an open amendment process for the Keystone bill to give members more input.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump to hold Nashville rally amid efforts to boost GOP Senate hopeful Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Overnight Finance: House rejects farm bill in conservative revolt | NAFTA deal remains elusive as talks drag on | Dodd-Frank rollback set for House vote MORE (D-W.Va.), a co-sponsor of the underlying Keystone bill, said he didn't mind having votes to table amendments.

"It is the first time we have got to vote very much since I have been here in four years, so the vote to table something is a vote," Manchin told reporters.

Senators on Tuesday agreed to take up another six amendments, with votes set to begin Wednesday.

Democrats offered two climate change-related amendments. One of them, from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), says climate change is real and significantly caused by humans. The second, from Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Pruitt gets Senate grilling | Dems want investigation into Pruitt's security chief | Interior officers arrested 13 in border surge | Advisers pan science 'transparency' plan Dems claim Pruitt's former security chief intervened to hire business associate Pruitt: ‘I don’t recall’ asking security agents to use sirens MORE (D-R.I.), simply states that,“"climate change is real and not a hoax."

Schatz said the amendments are about "laying down a predicate that asks people what side of basic science and facts they are on."

Republicans are broadly skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change, arguing the extent to which it is caused by human activity is overstated.

Democrats in response have taken to labeling the GOP a party of “climate deniers” and say Republicans will pay the price at the ballot box in 2016 for their stance.

"There's an opportunity for a moderate, science-oriented Republican to show some courage, and vote in the way that they know reflects the facts, even if it may cause them difficulty in the primary election," Schatz said.

The next series of votes also includes an amendment offered by Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThis week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem lawmaker spars with own party over prison reform MORE (D-Ill.) on the transportation of petroleum coke.

Also added to the queue were three Republican amendments: One, from Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerDefense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Pruitt’s renewable fuel attacks cost him GOP support in Congress Meet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska MORE (R-Neb.), would limit the designation of new national monuments. Another, from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Utah), would restrict fees paid to plaintiffs in endangered species suits. The last amendment, from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), deals with coal refuse power plants. 

— This story was updated at 7:25 p.m.