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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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure 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 Levy BoxerKamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Billionaire Steyer to push for Dem House push 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 Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller 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.