Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats, including five up for re-election this year, are pressing President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and they say they want a decision by the end of next month.
Most Republicans support the pipeline, but the 11 Democrats who wrote a letter to Mr. Obama urging him to approve the project deliberately made it a one party-effort. While a set of bipartisan signatures can be a powerful thing in the art of Washington letter-writing, these lawmakers clearly want to accentuate the pressure Mr. Obama faces from his own party on this issue.
“It’s really to turn up the pressure on the president,” said a Senate Democratic aide on the condition of anonymity. “We know where the Republicans are on this issue.”
Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Warner of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska, who all face tight races this November, signed the letter, which urges Mr. Obama to put in place an explicit timeline to decide on the project and to make a final decision by May 31. The party’s quest to keep control of the Senate could hinge on the races of these five Democrats, who have previously expressed support for the project. Many of them come from fossil-fuel rich states.
I have to be honest: The way I’m reading the electorate this year, four of those senators are probably toast. Warner is the only one who stands in a strong position and is running in a bluish state. Hagan and Pryor are already polling behind their opponents and they’re in red states. Landrieu has been in a downward spiral but is still hanging on. Once she faces the actual GOP nominee, her trouble begins. Louisiana has changed dramatically under her feet. Begich fell behind last month.
Still, it’s nice to see some Democrats track right for a change. The vast majority of the American people support the Keystone, but President Obama is showing his radical left roots in standing in the way. Odds are, he relents closer to the election, to give vulnerable Democrats a positive talking point.