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Keystone marathon begins in Senate

The Senate on Tuesday began what is expected to be a weeks-long debate over the Keystone XL pipeline by holding a trio of amendment votes.

Out of the three amendments proposed, only one — Republican Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Strengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE's (Ohio) trimmed down version of an energy efficiency bill — passed, in a 95-4 vote.

Two other amendments proposed by Democrats — one that would have banned the export of oil shipped through the Canada-to-Texas pipeline and another that would have required the project be built with U.S. steel — were killed by the Senate.

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Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySenators ask airlines to offer cash refunds for unused flight credits Civilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation MORE (D-Mass.) slammed Republicans, claiming they "blocked" his amendment on oil exports and used a procedural move to “table” the amendment and halt debate.

Republicans shot back that a motion to table simply means the Senate as a whole doesn't think the amendment should get a vote.

The confusion pointed to the difficulty senators might have in transitioning back to “regular order,” where legislation is amended on the floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal McConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to allow an open amendment process for the Keystone bill to give members more input.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIs the Constitution in the way of DC statehood? Biden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Joe Manchin is wrong — D.C. statehood is constitutional MORE (D-W.Va.), a co-sponsor of the underlying Keystone bill, said he didn't mind having votes to table amendments.

"It is the first time we have got to vote very much since I have been here in four years, so the vote to table something is a vote," Manchin told reporters.

Senators on Tuesday agreed to take up another six amendments, with votes set to begin Wednesday.

Democrats offered two climate change-related amendments. One of them, from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), says climate change is real and significantly caused by humans. The second, from Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseJudge's decision on Barr memo puts spotlight on secretive DOJ office On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package MORE (D-R.I.), simply states that,“"climate change is real and not a hoax."

Schatz said the amendments are about "laying down a predicate that asks people what side of basic science and facts they are on."

Republicans are broadly skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change, arguing the extent to which it is caused by human activity is overstated.

Democrats in response have taken to labeling the GOP a party of “climate deniers” and say Republicans will pay the price at the ballot box in 2016 for their stance.

"There's an opportunity for a moderate, science-oriented Republican to show some courage, and vote in the way that they know reflects the facts, even if it may cause them difficulty in the primary election," Schatz said.

The next series of votes also includes an amendment offered by Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Biden's internal polling touts public support for immigration reform The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (D-Ill.) on the transportation of petroleum coke.

Also added to the queue were three Republican amendments: One, from Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations MORE (R-Neb.), would limit the designation of new national monuments. Another, from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan GOP governor says Republican Party has to allow for differences MORE (R-Utah), would restrict fees paid to plaintiffs in endangered species suits. The last amendment, from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), deals with coal refuse power plants. 

— This story was updated at 7:25 p.m.