Obama: 'Judge' Keystone on 'Whether or Not It Accelerates Climate Change'
As expected, the House today passed a bill from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The final tally was 252-161, with 31 Democrats crossing over to vote in favor and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), voting "present."
In the Senate, the incumbent facing Cassidy in a Dec. 6 runoff was desperately trying to scrape together enough votes to avert a filibuster and save the bill.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined the pro-Keystone forces today, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters, adding that she thinks she can get the 60th vote. Bennet didn't release any statements about his decision.
Landrieu has until Tuesday, when the Senate is expected to take up the bill.
"If the Democrats had been half as concerned about creating jobs for the American people as they are about saving the job of one politician in Louisiana, this would have been done years ago," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told Fox. "This is now six years into this process. The Democrats have been blocking it. The president has been blocking it. And what's really going to be interesting to see is if, in fact, the Democrats in the Senate now flip and decide to vote for it, what does the president do?"
Thune noted that the State Department's analysis figures $20 million in additional property tax revenue for his state from pipeline construction, as well as 3,000 to 4,000 jobs. In total, the analysis estimated the creation of about 42,000 jobs from pipeline construction. "It's a no-brainer," Thune said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement that rejecting the bill is "a no-brainer."
“Instead of increasing carbon emissions and accelerating climate change so oil companies can make more profits, we should put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating a sustainable energy future," Sanders said.
Even if Landrieu can find that last Senate vote, it's likely President Obama will kill the bill.
"My position hasn't changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed. Right now you have a case pending in Nebraska, where the pipeline would run through, in which a state court judge has questioned the plan. And until we know what the route is, it's very hard to finish that evaluation. And I don't think we should short- circuit that process," Obama told reporters while in Burma on Friday.
"I have also noted that, as policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the American people with their energy costs and their gas prices," he added. "And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States, or is somehow lowering gas prices."
At the State Department, press secretary Jen Psaki said they're moving ahead with their "thorough, transparent, and objective review" of the pipeline project, and the Senate vote would have no bearing on that.