Senate Keystone veto override vote expected Thursday

The Senate will vote Thursday on whether to override President Obama's veto of legislation authorizing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill MORE (R-Ky.), said the senator will file cloture on Wednesday to set up the final vote.

"The cloture vote would then likely be Wednesday and the override on Thursday," Stewart said.

Republican leadership had originally planned to hold the cloture vote Tuesday, and final override vote on Wednesday, but late action on Friday by the House to fund the Department of Homeland Security changed the schedule.

The Senate will have to hold a cloture vote Monday evening on moving to a conference committee with House lawmakers on funding for DHS, pushing back Keystone action by one day.

The cloture vote on Keystone is needed, Stewart said, since Democrats are prepared to filibuster the override. Sixty votes would be necessary to clear the procedural hurdle.

"[T]o overcome the Democrats’ history-making filibuster of the bipartisan override, the Majority Leader will proceed to the President’s veto message this week and file cloture," Stewart said.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Calif. Dem missed votes, sit-in on trip to Spain Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 MORE (D-Calif.) shot back at the override push.

"This is a ludicrous idea," Boxer said. "First, they hold the homeland security funding bill hostage to immigration. Now they want to hold the highway bill hostage to big polluting Canadian special interests.”

The majority of Democrats in the Senate oppose the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, but nine centrist Democrats support it.

That means supporters are likely to win more than the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles, but they are unlikely to win the 67 votes necessary to override the president's veto. As of Friday, supporters appear to have 63 votes.  

Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenDeath threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time MORE (R-N.D.) told The Hill last week that he was working to get more Democrats on board but that he is also weighing next moves given the likelihood the override effort will fail.

One option is adding Keystone legislation to another bill.

"I think it's more likely we are going to look to something like the highway bill and attaching it there. That's an infrastructure bill, this is about infrastructure. " Hoeven said. "We have strong support in the House. Obviously, we have everybody on our side." 

Opponents are optimistic the override vote will fail and are putting increased pressure on Obama to reject the pipeline outright as soon as possible.

This story was last updated at 2:32 p.m.