Keystone may fall short of votes needed to clear procedural hurdle

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) is planning to hold a vote Monday evening on whether to end debate on legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

"It’s about time to bring the Keystone debate to a positive conclusion," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Opponents of the bill say McConnell may fall short of the 60 votes needed to proceed, due to the absences of some senators and a desire among Democrats to consider more amendments.

McConnell on the Senate floor blasted Democrats, and accused their leaders of pressuring their members to block the Keystone bill.

“Now, we’ve heard rumors that some in the Democratic leadership are pressuring rank-and-file Democrats — even Democrats who cosponsored this bill — to block Keystone’s jobs with a filibuster instead," McConnell said.

"Democratic leadership is claiming there haven't been enough ... haha ... enough opportunities to consider amendments," McConnell said.

Democrats blasted McConnell last week when he first moved to close off debate on the bill, which would approve the $8 billion pipeline.  

After a marathon midnight session, McConnell moved to stop consideration of amendments and move forward on final passage of the bill after weeks of debate.

“A Keystone filibuster cannot succeed without the support of Democrats who voted for a Keystone bill just a few weeks ago without any amendments, and who are cosponsoring this jobs bill today," McConnell said.                                         

“So I truly hope these Democrats won’t vote to block Keystone jobs now, just because a different party controls the Senate."

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the amendments offered by Democrats improved the bill, and scolded McConnell for objecting to 60 seconds of debate on Democratic amendments that were offered last week. 

"It didn't leave a very good taste in the mouth of many Democrats not even those who are supporting this Keystone Canadian pipeline," Durbin said Monday. 

"Even if we don't pass this cloture vote this evening let's come up with this list of amendments." 

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) slammed McConnell as creating a "gag-a-thon" during the Keystone debate. 

A GOP aide told The Hill earlier on Monday that the snow hitting the Northeast and Democratic resistance to the cloture vote threatened moving the bill forward. 

If Democrats are successful in their first filibuster as a minority this year, McConnell will have to file a motion to reconsider and final passage on the bill will likely be pushed back to next week.