West Virginia’s Joe Manchin was one of nine Democrats to join Republicans in voting for a Keystone XL pipeline bill in the Senate on Thursday
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Want a list of Democrats to watch for bipartisan deal-making? Take a look at Thursday’s Senate vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
A bill that would approve construction of the proposed pipeline cleared the Senate on a vote of 62 to 36, with nine Democrats joining their Republican colleagues. It won’t get much farther, however, since President Barack Obama has threatened a veto. But the roll call indicated which members of Obama’s party are willing to cross the aisle in the new Republican-led Senate.
The White House has said Obama would veto legislation to build the proposed pipeline, which would run from Canada’s oil sands to Steele City, Neb. If built, it would connect with existing pipelines and take oil to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Obama wants a U.S. review of the proposed TransCanada Corp. TRP, +0.41% project to be completed, the White House has said.
Backers want the pipeline to be constructed now. But the failure of the bill to fetch the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto means Keystone supporters will have to go back to the legislative drawing board. A bill vetoed by the president can become law if two-thirds of members in the House and Senate agree to pass it.
Meanwhile, the Senate-passed bill isn’t going straight to Obama’s desk. The Senate measure includes a handful of amendments not attached to a House-approved Keystone bill. A House Republican aide said discussions are underway about how to proceed with the two different bills.
One option is for the House to pass the Senate’s bill, as amended. Or House and Senate lawmakers could hold a conference and agree on a single bill.
One Democrat who voted for the bill on Thursday, Jon Tester of Montana, quickly urged Obama to sign the bill. But Tester said Keystone isn’t the “only solution” for the country’s energy future, and urged development of more clean energy sources.
Amendments to the Senate bill include a measure from Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman that aims to improve energy efficiency in buildings. Another says oil sands shouldn’t be excluded from paying into an oil-spill trust fund.
The bulk of amendments failed, however, including one that would have subjected tar-sands oil to the federal excise tax on petroleum, and another that would have required using U.S.-made materials to build the pipeline.