Energy & Environment

Can Mary Landrieu get to 60 votes on Keystone pipeline?

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Embattled Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and other supporters of building the Keystone XL pipeline appear to be one vote short of the 60 they need to win a key vote on the project on Tuesday.

Landrieu has 59 votes backing legislation to approve the project, and Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) appear to be her top targets to get to 60.

{mosads}The effort is crucial to Landrieu because of her runoff election in December against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who also backs the pipeline. Landrieu is seen as a decided underdog in the race, and Senate Democrats have scheduled Tuesday’s vote to try to give her a boost.

If she fails, it could be a death knell for her reelection hopes.

Supporters of Keystone had been targeting Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), but a spokesman for the senator told The Hill on Monday that he would vote no. 

Both sides are furiously working the phones in advance of Tuesday evening’s vote.

Proponents are “burning up the phone lines and e-mails trying to find that vote to support the procedural move,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday.

Green groups are pushing right back, rallying outside of Landrieu’s Washington, D.C. home on Monday morning. A small group of activists led by 350.org draped an inflatable pipeline across Landrieu’s front yard. 

Every Republican in the chamber is expected to vote yes, meaning 15 Democrats must support it to reach the threshold of 60, which would cut off a filibuster by opponents.

Ten Democrats have joined Landrieu in co-sponsoring the legislation approving the pipeline: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and John Walsh (Mont.).

That leaves supporters needing to win four more votes to reach 60.

Here is a look at the key votes:

UNDECIDED

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)

Rockefeller is retiring and represents a pro-coal state where Keystone is popular. His office hasn’t indicated which way the senator will vote. 

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)

A possible fence-sitter, King is “leaning no,” his spokesman said last week. That wiggle room leaves supporters with hope they might still be able to win his vote.

 

KEY DEM YES VOTES

Sen. Bob Casey (Penn.)

Casey supported the pipeline earlier this year, and was one of the first to get behind Landrieu’s push last week. He will vote “yes” to approve Keystone on Tuesday.

Sen. Tom Carper (Del.)

Will vote “yes,” in favor of the pipeline on Tuesday. He said “enough already” on Thursday. “Let’s clear the decks” and start talking about other issues, Carper said.

Green groups like 350.org are now pressuring Carper to vote against the Keystone pipeline.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.)

Bennet brought the vote total in favor of Keystone to 59 on Friday when Landrieu told reporters that Bennet “feels very strongly” about Keystone, and that he would support the bill. 

Senate Democrats have decided to hold the Keystone vote as part of a bid to help Landrieu in her runoff election for the Senate next month against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

 

KEY DEM NO VOTES

Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.)

Nelson, who was courted by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Landrieu, will vote “no” on the Keystone bill, his spokesman said Friday. Nelson supports the pipeline but only with a ban on exporting the oil it transports.

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)

The freshman senator, while a long-shot, was on the list of possible flips for Keystone supporters until he publicly came out against the pipeline over the weekend.

Booker said he will vote no on Tuesday when asked by a Twitter follower. “I am a firm NO against the KXL,” he tweeted to another.

Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) 

Coons also said he would vote against approving the project. On Thursday, Coons’s office said the senator is frustrated with the Keystone review but will vote against the authorization bill next week because it isn’t Congress’ role to issue construction permits.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)

Klobuchar could have been a hopeful flip, but her office was quick to say she would not be voting in favor of the pipeline. Klobuchar has not voted yes before and is not a yes now, according to her spokeswoman.

Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.)

Levin had increasingly been seen as a possible yes vote, but he told reporters on Monday that he would vote no. A spokesman for his office confrmed his no vote to The Hill. 

“I’m voting against the pipeline because it bypasses the environmental impact statement, which should not be bypassed,” Levin said, according to the Washington Examiner. 

 

This story was updated at 4:47 p.m. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar Angus King Bill Nelson Bob Casey Carl Levin Chris Coons Claire McCaskill Dick Durbin Heidi Heitkamp Jay Rockefeller Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin John Hoeven Jon Tester Kay Hagan Mark Begich Mark Pryor Mark Warner Mary Landrieu Michael Bennet Tom Carper

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