The Senate today passed a bill to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline, but fell five votes short of the veto-proof majority needed in the face of President Obama’s threat to use his pen.
After days of debate on the first Senate legislation of the new Congress, the bipartisan measure passed 62-36.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.) joined Republicans in voting for the pipeline.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who was reportedly fundraising in Beverly Hills today, missed the vote. So did Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is still recovering from his workout accident.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill, cited a recent poll in which 22 percent said Obama said veto the pipeline.
“At the end of last year, 68 percent expressed support for the project; in 2013, 70 percent expressed support for it; and in 2012, 67 percent said the project should be built,” Hoeven said.
“This is about energy, jobs, economic activity, national security, and building the right kind of infrastructure we need to achieve all of these things. The will of the American people and Congress is clear. I encourage the president to sign this legislation and work with us not only to build this vital infrastructure project, but also to help us develop a true comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy plan for our nation.”
His lead co-sponsor, Manchin, said the extensive debate and dozens of amendments made the bill stronger.
“It is my hope that the bill will swiftly pass through the House and that the President will defer to multiple State Department studies which have all concluded the project will have no significant impact on our environment,” Manchin said. “With a majority of Americans in support of the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction, let’s move this project forward once and for all.”
“Once we send this jobs bill to his desk, I urge President Obama to drop his veto threat and stand with millions of hard-working taxpayers in support of finally building the Keystone XL pipeline,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though, decried passage of the “totally crazy” bill.
“With the scientific community telling us loudly and clearly that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels if we are to combat climate change, it is totally crazy for the Congress to support the production and transportation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet,” Sanders said.