Keystone XL picks up Senate backing

Keystone XL picks up Senate backing

The Senate on Friday voted 62-37 to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in an amendment to Senate budget.

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE’s (R-N.D.) amendment was largely symbolic, but served as a clear statement that the Senate backs the pipeline.

"It puts the Senate on record in support of the Keystone pipeline project. And that's just appropriate," Hoeven said. "The Department of State has done four environmental impact statements over the last five years — four — and said there are no significant environmental impacts. And it's time that we in the Senate stepped up with the American people."

All Republicans voted in favor. The Democrats who supported the measure were Sens. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Overnight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor MORE (Mont.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (Alaska), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Bennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (Colo.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperInstead of raising the gas tax, stop wasting money on frivolous projects To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists MORE (Del.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyHere are the Senate Democrats backing a Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine call Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (Pa.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMeet the dog and 'sea turtle' who launched campaigns for office Senators demand briefing on Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria 2020 Democrats push for gun control action at forum MORE (Del.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Ind.), Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganWarning signs flash for Tillis in North Carolina Tillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary MORE (N.C.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE (S.D.), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (La.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (W. Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillIranian attacks expose vulnerability of campaign email accounts Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (Fla.), Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Red-state Democrats worry impeachment may spin out of control MORE (Mont.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (Va.).



The Senate Democrats’ budget plan is non-binding, and reconciliation with the GOP House version is unlikely.


Hoeven has proposed separate legislation that would bypass President Obama’s authority to decide the Canada-to-Texas pipeline's fate. The White House has the final say because the project crosses an international border.

While that bill sits in the hopper, Hoeven's budget amendment Friday kept up the drumbeat on Keystone.

GOP lawmakers have made much noise about the pipeline. In meetings with Obama last week, House and Senate Republicans pressed the president for a timeline on his decision — about which Obama was vague.

They, along with some unions and industry groups, say the pipeline would create jobs. They also tout the benefits of getting oil from Canada, an ally.

Obama has been noncommittal on Keystone. According to some Senate Republicans present at last week’s confab, the president said his decision would come by year’s end.

On top of that, the president told the GOP their claims about Keystone’s job creation prospects were exaggerated. He also suggested a good amount of the oil sands were destined for export.

To that end, the Senate rejected Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE's (D-Calif.) amendment that called for conducting more studies on Keystone while its application remains pending.

That amendment, which fell 33-66, aimed to answer questions of how much of Keystone's oil is intended for overseas markets and how much of the pipeline's steel would come from U.S. firms, among other things.

"It's not true that all the work has been done. We don't know how much of the steel will be American. We don't how many of the jobs will be American. We don't know if our national security people think that dirty tar sands is going to create climate disruption," Boxer said after her amendment fell, before the Senate took up Hoeven's measure.

All Republicans voted against Boxer's proposal. The Democrats joining them were Baucus, Begich, Carper, Casey, Coons, Donnelly, Hagan, Heitkamp, Johnson, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Pryor and Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownCritics pounce as Facebook crypto project stumbles Trump administration blocked consumer watchdog from public service loan forgiveness program: report Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 MORE (Ohio), William Cowan (Mass.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate MORE (Va.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenGraham, Van Hollen introduce Turkey sanctions bill Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing US envoy insists Syria pullout doesn't affect Iran strategy MORE (N.H.), Mark UdallMark Emery UdallPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down MORE (Colo.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate fails to override Trump veto over emergency declaration Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens Green groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight MORE (N.M.). Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSenators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall MORE (I-Maine) also voted against. 

Green groups have claimed a bulk of Keystone's crude would head overseas. They also say the jobs numbers floated by the pipeline's supporters are far too high.

Environmentalists' main contention, though, is that Keystone would accelerate production of Canada’s oil sands, a carbon-intensive fossil fuel. They say processing and burning oil sands would devastate the climate.

They're urging Obama to nix the pipeline. They say green-lighting it would run counter to the president’s desire to combat climate change.

But Republicans also said Obama told them last week that environmentalists’ fears of Keystone’s impact on the climate were overblown.

That hews closely to a recent State Department draft environmental review. 

That review dismissed greens' arguments that Keystone would ramp up oil sands development and significantly affect the climate.

Green groups are challenging the assessment, which is currently in the midst of a 45-day comment period.

— This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.