Energy & Environment

Senate GOP vows quick Keystone action in 2015

Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday they were disappointed that the Keystone XL bill failed, but they are confident they will pass it after the GOP takes control in January.

Keystone supporters will exceed the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the new Congress, and may even reach 67 to override a veto from President Obama, Republicans said.

{mosads}“This’ll be an early item on the agenda in the next Congress,” incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters shortly after Tuesday’s vote.

“I’m very confident that Sen. [John] Hoeven’s bill will succeed, and we’ll be able to get it down to the president,” he said.

His colleagues echoed his enthusiasm.

“We knew it was going to be tough to get this 60-vote threshold,” said Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican who sponsored the bill along with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

“All along … we knew we’d be in the new Senate on this issue, because the president’s made it clear he’s going to veto this bill,” Hoeven said. “And so we were prepared to come back.”

In Tuesday’s vote, the 45 members of the Republican caucus were one vote short of recruiting enough Democrats to hit the 60 votes.

It was the first time that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allowed a standalone bill approving the pipeline to reach the floor for a vote, more than six years after TransCanada Corp. filed an application for the oil pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

Hoeven said that if Obama wants to veto the legislation in the next Senate, Republicans could either attach it to “must-pass” legislation like a funding bill or try to override his veto, which would take 67 votes and a two-thirds majority of the House.

“Getting to that magic number is a possibility,” he said.

Hoeven said the new Senate will have 63 votes in favor of the pipeline, more than enough to stop a filibuster. But 67 votes will be within reach, he said.

The House passed its matching legislation Friday with 252 votes, 38 short of the 290 needed for a veto override.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the incoming chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was also bullish about the bill.

“For so many good reasons, we will be back at the first of the year, as Leader [Mitch] McConnell has said,” she said.

“And I do believe that the momentum that we have gained, the momentum that the American public continues to press us on, will prove that we will see passage of this and ultimately success for this pipeline,” she said.

“We’ll revisit this issue in the new Congress and have an opportunity with some new people for a new vote,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Tags John Hoeven John Thune Keystone XL Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell

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