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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 HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller 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 Baucus2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer Steady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate 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 BennetColorado senators pitch immigration compromise Colorado senators mark Olympics with Senate hallway curling GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races MORE (Colo.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump states would bear brunt of gas tax increase: conservative groups Trump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax Senate bill would let EPA implement global greenhouse gas deal MORE (Del.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems hit stock buybacks in tax law fight Dem senator warns Mueller against issuing Russia report near 2018 election Dem praises gay US Olympian who feuded with Pence MORE (Pa.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate rejects Trump immigration plan MORE (Ind.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE (N.C.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate rejects Trump immigration plan Cramer to announce North Dakota Senate run on Friday Senate Democrats not sold on bipartisan immigration deal MORE (N.D.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter 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 Loretta LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE (La.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W. Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school MORE (Fla.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford 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) TesterWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   MORE (Mont.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Mueller indictment reveals sophisticated Russian manipulation effort GOP cautious, Dems strident in reaction to new indictments 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 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'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 BrownLawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves Dem senator shares photo praising LeBron James after Laura Ingraham attacks Trump gets recommendation for steep curbs on imported steel, risking trade war MORE (Ohio), William Cowan (Mass.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSave lives, restore congressional respect by strengthening opioids’ seizure Overnight Finance: Lawmakers, Treasury look to close tax law loopholes | Trump says he backs gas tax hike | Markets rise despite higher inflation | Fannie Mae asks for .7B Bipartisan Senate group says they have immigration deal MORE (Va.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: VA chief won't resign | Dem wants probe into VA hacking claim | Trump official denies plan for 'bloody nose' N. Korea strike | General '100 percent' confident in US missile defense Trump official denies US planning 'bloody nose' strike on North Korea House Oversight Committee opens probe into sexual abuse of gymnasts MORE (N.H.), Mark UdallMark Emery 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 UdallCongress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Senate rejects centrist immigration bill after Trump veto threat Dem senators want list of White House officials with interim security clearances MORE (N.M.). Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingLawmakers are failing in duty to respond to the American people Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks GOP senators float fallback plan to protect Dreamers 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.