Senate set to vote Wednesday on 18 Keystone amendments

The Senate will begin a second marathon session on Wednesday, voting on 18 amendments to legislation that would approve the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.


The vote-a-thon, set to kick off on Wednesday afternoon, includes amendments on campaign finance, Alaska wilderness and removing the lesser prairie-chicken from the threatened species list.

Votes could go late into the evening, and there are more amendments pending after the 18 scheduled Wednesday.

“It is now time to get through the remaining amendments and vote up or down on passage of this bill before we leave for the week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor.

“We expect this bipartisan bill to finally pass the Senate,” he added. “We expect the filibuster of good American jobs to soon come to an end.”

He argued the legislation would “pump billions into our economy” and support “thousands of jobs” with minimal environmental impact.

McConnell urged President Obama to back away from the veto threat he leveled at the GOP bill.

“We hope he’ll sign Keystone’s jobs into law. The president should expect more good ideas to head his way, too,” he said.

The series comes after Democrats filibustered a move by McConnell to end debate on the underlying bill and proceed to final passage on Monday.

The return to regular order has stretched out the debate over the $8 billion oil sands pipeline into its fourth week.

The Senate has already voted on 24 amendments to the bill — more, Republicans tout, than all those voted on last year under the Democratic majority.

Among the measures up for votes Wednesday is one from Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-R.I.) that would require campaign finance disclosures from companies benefitting from the Alberta oil sands.

Whitehouse has made clear he wants the amendment to shine light on "dark money" coming from conservative donors Charles and David Koch and fossil fuel companies.

An amendment from Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (R-Alaska) is also set to get a vote.

That measure is retaliation against the recent actions by the administration to protect more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and Arctic waters from oil and gas development. The amendment would free up areas like ANWR and others that have been designated by the federal government as wilderness regions to potential drilling.

Another measure from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Texas) would speed the approval of facilities that export liquefied natural gas.

Cruz originally wanted to propose an amendment that would lift the decades-old crude export ban but scrapped it. A number of Republicans were hesitant to put such a controversial measure on the bill, as many lawmakers have yet to weigh in on where they stand on the ban.

Other votes in the series include ones on climate change and the designation of national monuments. Keystone proponents are eager to move on to final passage of the bill by the end of this week, but no agreement has been reached to bring an end to debate.

The final vote will likely be pushed into next week, meaning the new Congress would spend an entire month on the controversial Canada-to-Texas pipeline.

— Alexander Bolton contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:06 a.m.