Dems urge Boehner not to rush Keystone vote

Three top House Democrats are pressuring Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE (R-Ohio) to allow time for hearings on a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline before sending it to the floor for a vote.

Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Frank Pallone (N.J.), and Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) claim Boehner is moving to schedule a vote on the oil sands pipeline sometime during the first two weeks of the new Congress.

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Passage in the House would set up the Senate to vote on the bill as well, and fulfill incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE’s (R-Ky.) vow to make Keystone XL the first item on the newly empowered GOP Senate’s agenda.

“It is our understanding that you may schedule the House of Representatives to vote on a bill to approve TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline during the first two weeks of the 114th Congress,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Given the magnitude of this issue, we urge you not to bypass the committee process and regular order for consideration of this controversial legislation.”

The Democrats argue in the letter that the 61 new members elected to Congress should be able to “consider, debate and propose their own ideas” on the Keystone XL legislation.

The letter also notes low oil prices and the plummeting cost of gasoline in the U.S. as new factors that represent a different world for Keystone.

“Members of Congress should have an opportunity to learn more about these changed circumstances as they weigh the costs and benefits of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline,” the letter states.

There will be hearing held on the legislation in question by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 7.

Robert Dillion, spokesman to new Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said the senator is eager to hold the hearing and send the legislation to the floor quickly.

McConnell has said it is the very first thing he wants to send to President Obama’s desk, and he is expected to have votes to pass it.

Obama appears poised to veto any legislation approving the pipeline, however, as he has reiterated a commitment to the process at the State Department and the need to wait for litigation in Nebraska to wrap up.