Defying President Barack Obama, 28 House Democrats joined Republicans Friday to help pass legislation to jump-start the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline project.
The defections are another indication that moderate Democrats, frustrated with midterm losses and weary of defending an unpopular president, may be more willing to break ranks with party leaders in 2015.
A day earlier, three top leaders of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him not to veto the bill, as he has promised, should it come to his desk.
“The Blue Dog Coalition stands ready to work with you and Congressional leaders to provide stringent oversight of construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but we cannot miss this opportunity to create good paying jobs and put America on the path to be less reliant on oil from our foes,” wrote Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Jim Costa of California.
A few lawmakers who align themselves with the more centrist New Democrat Coalition were also among the “yes” votes, but the support from Democrats was not strictly limited to the center of the party: Progressives such as Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas voted in favor of the legislation, too.
When you’ve lost a guy from Oregon on an energy issue, give up, Mr. President.
This is the first sign of life from the Blue Dogs in the four years since Obamacare removed their teeth. (Aside: I went into an office they had on Capitol Hill on Swearing In Day in 2011, laughed and said, “Like you guys even exist anymore.”) Here’s hoping they can become somewhat useful again in the next couple of years.
The president’s staunchest loyalty has always been to the Climate Church lobbyists and fund raisers, and he will more than likely continue to oppose this pipeline if for no other reason than to make them happy.
Look for another executive action tantrum soon.