The Senate on Thursday moved toward final passage of a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline, voting 62-35 to end debate on the legislation.
"We are very close to the end," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters shortly after the cloture vote.
Republicans are poised to pass the Keystone bill in their first major act as the Senate majority. At least 60 senators are expected to vote to approve the pipeline, and it's possible the legislation could get 63 votes if nine Democrats vote in favor.
President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation authorizing the $8 billion pipeline's construction, and Republicans do not appear to have the 67 votes necessary to override him.
"We are hoping the president, upon reflection, will sign agree to sign onto a bill that his State Department says could creates 42,000 jobs,"," McConnell said.
Before reaching Obama, the legislation must first be approved by the House, which has already passed its own bill authorizing the pipeline.
It's not clear whether the House will simply approve the Senate's version, or if there will be a conference between House and Senate members to reconcile the two Keystone bills.
Both parties agreed after Wednesday's marathon to hold votes on a final batch of amendments Thursday and then to proceed to a final vote.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (R-Alaska), who was credited with helping shepherd the bill through, reflected on the four-week long debate.
"Thirty-eight amendments to date is nothing to sneeze at," Murkowski told reporters after the vote to end debate.
"Members are coming together, and all of a sudden you are looking around the floor and realizing that there may be somebody that you can work with on a pipeline safety issue, or there may be somebody you can work with to build a coalition to deal with the land and water conservation fund," she said.
She added that the debate surrounding the first piece of legislation the Senate is poised to send to Obama is "important" not just for the pipeline, but "for the process and good for the spirit of cooperation as we move forward."
This story was updated at 1:22 p.m.