After promising a near immediate vote, the GOP-led Senate voted 62-36 in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The House of Representatives had already approved a similar bill earlier this month but before it is sent to the President Obama those differences will need to be rectified. President Obama has promised to veto the legislation and today’s vote fell short of the number of votes that it would need to override the promised veto (67). It’s unclear whether the Republicans could find another five votes if Obama were to veto the proposed legislation.
Nine Democrats reached across the aisle with their votes to join the unanimous Republican support for the controversial pipeline.
The pipeline is a contentious (at best) issue with Republican’s insisting that it would create as many as 42,000 jobs while many Democrats believe it is simply a gift to a foreign oil company.
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Keystone XL: The arguments
“Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said ahead of the vote. “It would support thousands of good American jobs and as the president’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact.”
Those sentiments were not echoed by the opposing side with Sen. Barbara Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate environment committee saying, “This bill is a disgrace. We tried on our side to make this a better bill and they turned us away.”
Following the vote, Obama speaking through White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated the White House’s intention of veto the bill.
The divisiveness of the bill in Washington DC, is reminiscent of the country’s. A Washington Post/ABC News poll this month found 34 percent of respondents wanted the pipeline built now, while 61 percent said the review process should continue. Clearly, following the quick drop in U.S. gas prices over the last few months, a number of people are weighing their environmental concerns more seriously given the sharp drop in prices at the pump.
On Monday, many in the media began doubting the ability of Republicans two vote on and pass the legislature after Democrats were able to demand the ability to put forward additional amendments by blocking a procedural vote.
The bill authorizes construction of the 1,179-mile pipeline, first proposed in 2008. The $8 billion project would carry oil primarily from Canada’s tar sands to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to Gulf Coast refineries among others in Cities like Chicago.