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 PortmanRob PortmanTime to fix our national parks GOP senators bristle at Trump's Medicaid cuts Overnight Energy: Trump budget takes flak over oil provisions 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyTrump's steps on Iran show cooperation with Congress is possible FCC votes to advance net neutrality repeal Senate Dems appeal to 'everyone who uses the internet' on net neutrality roll back 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 McConnellMitch McConnellSenate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Top GOP senators tell Trump to ditch Paris climate deal Senators move to rein in Trump with new ISIS war bill MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to allow an open amendment process for the Keystone bill to give members more input.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIn the politics of healthcare reform, past is prologue Dem senator: UK attack shows importance of US intelligence community Heitkamp, Manchin under pressure over GOP regs bill 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 WhitehouseDOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes Senators push for enhanced powers to battle botnets GOP rejects Dem effort to demand Trump’s tax returns 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 DurbinDick DurbinDem senators accuse Trump of purposefully holding back information The GOP must fight against the Durbin amendment's price controls It’s time to rethink prisoner re-entry MORE (D-Ill.) on the transportation of petroleum coke.

Also added to the queue were three Republican amendments: One, from Sen. Deb FischerDeb FischerSenate takes lead on Trump’s infrastructure proposal Updated fuel regulations would modernize options at gas pumps McConnell promises women can take part in healthcare meetings MORE (R-Neb.), would limit the designation of new national monuments. Another, from Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeSenate gears up for fight on Trump's 0B Saudi Arabia arms sale Senate feels pressure for summer healthcare vote Overnight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens 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.