Senate Foreign Relations chairman backpedals on Keystone XL hearing

Menendez’s change in tone on a possible hearing comes after a majority of the Senate endorsed TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline.

Sixty-two senators, including 17 Democrats, backed Keystone last month in a vote on an amendment to the nonbinding Senate Democrat budget plan. The vote was designed to pressure President Obama into approving the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which requires a cross-border permit from the White House.

Two of the Democrats that voted in favor — Sens. Bob CaseyBob CaseyDem leaders amp up calls for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes Let’s not roll back bipartisan progress on global food security Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE (Pa.) and Chris CoonsChris CoonsDemocrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repeal Funeral for the filibuster: GOP will likely lay Senate tool to rest Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE (Del.) — are members of the Foreign Relations Committee. Coons, however, quickly distanced himself from the vote.

The potential Foreign Relations Committee hearing would shed more light on a March State Department report that said TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline would not accelerate oil sands production or significantly raise greenhouse gas emissions.

That satisfied Keystone's business and largely Republican supporters. They used it to press President Obama to swiftly approve a cross-border permit for the project.

Foggy Bottom's findings alarmed some Democrats — including Menendez — as well as green and progressive groups. They said they had questions about the State Department's process.

— This story was updated at 2:37 p.m.