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Keystone veto override fails

 

 The Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Obama’s veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, falling five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed in a 62-37 vote.

It’s the first time Congress has voted on whether to override a veto from Obama and could be a sign of things to come, with Republicans in charge of the House and Senate.

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Eight Democrats voted with Republicans to override Obama: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Warner (Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who backs the pipeline, missed the vote.

The eight Democrats also voted to approve the $8 billion oil sands project in January. Sixty-seven votes are needed to override a presidential veto.

Keystone proponents vowed to continue the fight for the pipeline despite the failure.

“If we don’t win the battle today, we will win the war, because we will attach it to another piece of legislation,” Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who wrote the bill, said Wednesday.

Hoeven said Republicans are likely to try to attach the legislation to a long-term transportation funding bill. Congress faces a May 31 deadline to approve new transportation funding.

“This is coming back in the form an infrastructure bill, a road bill that we are all voting for,” said Manchin.

Keystone supporters are optimistic that Obama won’t veto a six-year highway bill if it includes Keystone, despite vows by the president to veto any attempt to circumvent the federal review process of the pipeline.

If attaching Keystone to a transpiration bill doesn’t work, supporters say, they will try to link it to a broader energy package.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Obama wouldn’t fall for Republican’s bluff on what they consider “must-pass” bills.

“If Sen. Hoeven wants to play more hostage politics with the Keystone pipeline that simply revives the two big failures of their disastrous first two months,” Whitehouse said. “If they want to go that way, the politician in me says, ‘please.’ ”

Obama’s rejection of the Keystone bill came within hours of Republicans sending it to the White House. It was the third veto of his presidency but his first major veto.

It’s also the first time Obama has vetoed legislation sent to his desk by the new Republican majorities in both chambers.

— This story was updated at 8:29 p.m.
 
CORRECTION: Sen. Donnelly did not vote on the override. An initial version of this story included incorrect information.