Keystone XL picks up Senate backing

Keystone XL picks up Senate backing

The Senate on Friday voted 62-37 to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in an amendment to Senate budget.

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Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenAir Force One is Trump’s new boardroom Overnight Finance: Trump strikes debt, spending deal with Dems | Deal shocks GOP | Fed’s No. 2 to resign | Trump keeps tax squeeze on red state Dems | House aims to pass budget next week Trump praises Dem senator during tax speech MORE’s (R-N.D.) amendment was largely symbolic, but served as a clear statement that the Senate backs the pipeline.

"It puts the Senate on record in support of the Keystone pipeline project. And that's just appropriate," Hoeven said. "The Department of State has done four environmental impact statements over the last five years — four — and said there are no significant environmental impacts. And it's time that we in the Senate stepped up with the American people."

All Republicans voted in favor. The Democrats who supported the measure were Sens. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBernie Sanders flexes power on single-payer ObamaCare architect supports single-payer system Trump has yet to travel west as president MORE (Mont.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts NFL star claims he was victim of 'abusive conduct' by Las Vegas police Gardner throws support behind DREAM Act MORE (Colo.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperIt’s time for Congress to actually fix the individual health insurance market Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill Trump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job MORE (Del.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Dems offer alternative to Trump administration's child care proposal MORE (Pa.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsRaising awareness about maternal health worldwide on National Bump Day Senate plans hearing for bills to protect Mueller Entering a new era of African investment MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems Trump having dinner with Schumer, Pelosi on Wednesday MORE (Ind.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJustice Dept investigating Equifax stock sales: report Dem senator: Trump 'very serious' about infrastructure Trump steps up courtship of Dems MORE (N.D.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuCNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' Trump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram MORE (La.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (W. Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Senators blast internet subsidy program It is time to make domestic terrorism a federal crime MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem asks airlines to cap airfares ahead of Hurricane Maria Trump encourages Rick Scott to run for Senate Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule MORE (Fla.), Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterFive things to know about Sanders’s single-payer plan Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill Overnight Regulation: DeVos ignites backlash with rewrite of campus sexual assault policy l EPA power plant rule decision likely this fall | Panel approves Trump financial regulator nominees MORE (Mont.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election MORE (Va.).



The Senate Democrats’ budget plan is non-binding, and reconciliation with the GOP House version is unlikely.


Hoeven has proposed separate legislation that would bypass President Obama’s authority to decide the Canada-to-Texas pipeline's fate. The White House has the final say because the project crosses an international border.

While that bill sits in the hopper, Hoeven's budget amendment Friday kept up the drumbeat on Keystone.

GOP lawmakers have made much noise about the pipeline. In meetings with Obama last week, House and Senate Republicans pressed the president for a timeline on his decision — about which Obama was vague.

They, along with some unions and industry groups, say the pipeline would create jobs. They also tout the benefits of getting oil from Canada, an ally.

Obama has been noncommittal on Keystone. According to some Senate Republicans present at last week’s confab, the president said his decision would come by year’s end.

On top of that, the president told the GOP their claims about Keystone’s job creation prospects were exaggerated. He also suggested a good amount of the oil sands were destined for export.

To that end, the Senate rejected Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job Pelosi's chief of staff stepping down Time is now to address infrastructure needs MORE's (D-Calif.) amendment that called for conducting more studies on Keystone while its application remains pending.

That amendment, which fell 33-66, aimed to answer questions of how much of Keystone's oil is intended for overseas markets and how much of the pipeline's steel would come from U.S. firms, among other things.

"It's not true that all the work has been done. We don't know how much of the steel will be American. We don't how many of the jobs will be American. We don't know if our national security people think that dirty tar sands is going to create climate disruption," Boxer said after her amendment fell, before the Senate took up Hoeven's measure.

All Republicans voted against Boxer's proposal. The Democrats joining them were Baucus, Begich, Carper, Casey, Coons, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, Johnson, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Pryor and Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision Dems call on DeVos to work with CFPB to protect student borrowers MORE (Ohio), William Cowan (Mass.), Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (Va.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Five things to know about the Kaspersky-Russia controversy DHS bans Kaspersky software in federal agencies MORE (N.H.), Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (Colo.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallIT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill MORE (N.M.). Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Washington dysfunction is damaging national security Booker signs on to Sanders's 'Medicare-for-all' bill MORE (I-Maine) also voted against. 

Green groups have claimed a bulk of Keystone's crude would head overseas. They also say the jobs numbers floated by the pipeline's supporters are far too high.

Environmentalists' main contention, though, is that Keystone would accelerate production of Canada’s oil sands, a carbon-intensive fossil fuel. They say processing and burning oil sands would devastate the climate.

They're urging Obama to nix the pipeline. They say green-lighting it would run counter to the president’s desire to combat climate change.

But Republicans also said Obama told them last week that environmentalists’ fears of Keystone’s impact on the climate were overblown.

That hews closely to a recent State Department draft environmental review. 

That review dismissed greens' arguments that Keystone would ramp up oil sands development and significantly affect the climate.

Green groups are challenging the assessment, which is currently in the midst of a 45-day comment period.

— This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.