Senate panel advances Keystone bill in 13-9 vote

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday passed legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in a 13-9 vote, setting up a vote in the full chamber as early as next week.

The bill will be brought to the floor to begin an open amendment process by Monday or Tuesday.

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Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPolice arrest 128 protesting Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill GOP launches counteroffensive on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh protesters descend on Collins, Flake offices on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Alaska), the panel's incoming chairwoman, condemned the administration for vowing to block legislation that would green light the $8 billion oil sands project 

"There is already a veto threat out there, but I don't think it should deter us," Murkowski said. "The country, but also the world, is watching the United States to see if we are ready to lead as a global energy superpower."

All Democrats on the committee minus Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos GOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh MORE (D-W.Va.) voted against the bill. Manchin is a co-sponsor of the legislation with Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Big Oil’s carbon capture tax credit betrayal MORE (R-N.D.)

Ranking member-elect Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Wash.) questioned Republicans' move to "prematurely intervene" in the permitting process by pushing the bill to the floor despite the veto threat.

"What is the emergency here for Congress to usurp process?" Cantwell asked.

She called the bill a "sweetheart deal" from Congress and said she would propose an amendment that requires corporations to pay into an oil spill trust fund.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCarbon tax could give liberals vast power to grow federal government Poll: Gillum leads DeSantis by 4 points in Florida Judd Gregg: Two ideas whose time has not come MORE (I-Vt.) also offered an amendment that would record a sense of the Congress on climate change.

"It's simple, do we agree with the international scientific community that climate change is real, or do we not?" Sanders asked.

The measure is an attempt by Democrats to put Republicans on the record about their beliefs on climate change.

It and all other amendments were tabled by the committee to be brought up during debate when the bill comes to the chamber floor next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw MORE (R-Ky.) called on the president to rethink his veto threat, after the Keystone bill passed out of committee.

"If the president is serious about supporting bipartisan infrastructure projects, he will reverse his veto threat and support these American jobs," McConnell said in a statement.

The White House argues the legislation would circumvent the ongoing State Department review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which is on hold due to litigation in Nebraska that questions the route of the pipeline.