The electoral tidal wave which swept Republicans into control of the U.S. Senate virtually guarantees approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
Without question, Republicans now have enough votes in both houses to move the Keystone legislation onto President Barack Obama's desk and to make passage of the legislation filibuster-proof, and are very close to having enough votes enough to override an Obama veto of the legislation, The Hill reports.
Support for the pipeline ballooned overnight from 57 to 61 votes with the election of a new batch of Republican senators, including Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Joni Ernst of Iowa, all of whom back the pipeline's construction. It would take 67 votes to make the legislation veto-proof, but Republicans feel confident they could woo enough Democrats to make a veto override impossible, if they need to do so.
A GOP aide told Politico,
"I think the first order of business is to pass it out of the House, Senate, and then finally force the president to make a decision on it. Only then do I think we would rework strategy to secure veto-proof."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC's "Daily Rundown," "I actually think the president will sign the bill on the Keystone pipeline because I think the pressure — he's going to be boxed in on that, and I think it's going to happen."
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Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., told Politico, "I think you're going to see us bring up energy legislation right away and Keystone will be one of the first things we pass."
Fox News reported
that the pipeline would bring over 800,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil a day to U.S. refineries and the American Petroleum Institute says it could provide 42,000 to 500,000 jobs by 2035.
The pipeline debate has raged for six years since TransCanada first proposed it, and the Obama administration and the Democratic Senate majority have consistently opposed construction of the $8 billion project, largely on environmental grounds, Politico notes.
But with their new-found power, Republicans are itching to revisit the pipeline struggle and get it passed.
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, likely the new Senate majority leader, told The Hill
before the election, "If we have a new majority next year, and a new majority leader, the Keystone pipeline will be voted on on the floor of the Senate, something the current majority has been avoiding for literally years."
Ryan Bernstein, Hoeven's chief of staff, told The Hill, "The election of several pro-Keystone senators puts the passage of Keystone that much closer and shows energy projects like Keystone are a priority for our country. We will be working with Sen. McConnell to get a vote on the floor shortly after the new Congress is seated."
Republican pipeline action still would face strong opposition from environmental groups, and Jamie Henn of 350.org told The Hill, "If Obama approves the pipeline, it would be a real blow to his legacy on climate. He has a lot to lose in terms of his outgoing reputation."
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