56 senators back new Keystone bill

 


Keystone XL supporters on Thursday introduced legislation they said was backed by 56 senators that would immediately greenlight the controversial oil pipeline.

"I have 56 hard yeses," Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill with Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (D-La.), told reporters Thursday.

"Beyond that I've got six or seven maybes. Our challenge is going to be to get to 60 votes," he said.

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Eleven Democrats are among the 56 senators backing the bill, which would immediately give pipeline developer TransCanada the green light on a permit to begin construction of Keystone XL, according to a release from Landrieu's office.

Democrats discussed the issue during a meeting on Thursday, and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid warns Trump 'can be reelected' Homeland Security Republican accuses Navy of withholding UFO info Poll: 47 percent back limits on Senate filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) expressed optimism a deal would be reached to allow a vote.

"There's a 70-80 percent chance we can work something out on Keystone," he said Thursday. 

Earlier this week, Reid said he wanted to bring an energy efficiency bill to the floor, but Republicans are trying to have a larger debate on energy issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (Ky.) said Republicans aren't interested in a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate vote on Keystone, which would not have any legal effect. The Senate voted on a similar nonbinding measure last year.

Hoeven said the vote on the Keystone bill won't be tossed aside.



"This is not something that is going to be delayed," Hoeven said. "It either has to be a part of the energy efficiency bill, or immediately following it."

Hoeven said he doesn't expect an agreement to be reached on a Keystone vote before the energy efficiency bill hits the Senate floor next week.

And while Republican leaders have said they would rather see a Keystone XL amendment than a stand-alone vote, Hoeven said he doesn't think its a "deal-breaker."

Landrieu says she wants a vote on stand-alone legislation, and seemed adamant Thursday that anything else was out of the question.

"The decision has already been made — we are moving forward on a vote on Keystone, and we are going to move forward on the energy efficiency bill," Landrieu said.



The bill will likely get severe pushback from the White House, Hoeven said.



“That is exactly what happened before,” he said. “At that time, we had more than 60 votes. By the time they were done, they actually pushed us down below 60. I don’t know if they’ve started that effort yet.”

Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganTillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (N.C.), 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.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 MORE (Mont.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCalifornia Law to rebuild middle class shows need for congressional action Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Top Democrat demands answers from CBP on security of biometric data MORE (Va.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (Alaska), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Senate Democrats to hold the floor to protest inaction on gun violence MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (Ind.) and John Walsh (Mont.) are the 10 other Democrats backing the bill with Landrieu.

Keystone proponents would need another four Democrats to sign on to the bill to reach a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes. They will likely focus on attracting Delaware’s Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion Lawmakers grill manufacturers over 'forever chemicals' contamination EPA ordered to set stronger smog standards MORE and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsBill to return B in unredeemed bonds advances Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel Democratic senator: Attacks on Saudi oil refineries 'may call for military action against Iran' MORE, and Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (Fla.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate Bennet launches first TV ads in Iowa MORE (Colo.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE (S.D.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyEx-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Democrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines MORE (Penn.).

But congressional sources told The Hill that Nelson and Johnson would vote no on a binding Keystone measure to avoid getting ahead of the administration's process.

Coons is another no-go on a binding bill.

"Senator Coons believes the law makes clear that it's up to the administration to make permitting decisions like this one. He's frustrated with how long it's taking for a decision to be made, but doesn't think it's Congress' role to be issuing construction permits," Coons spokesman Ian Koski said in an email on Thursday.

When asked on Wednesday which way he'd vote, Carper wouldn't be pinned down, signaling the difficulty Keystone advocates will have rallying votes if it comes to the floor next week.

This story was last updated at 5:51 p.m.