Senate Passes Bill Approving Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Democratic co-sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill (L) at Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the Democratic co-sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill (L) at Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment.

The 62–36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, and marked the first time the Senate passed a bill authorizing the pipeline, despite numerous attempts to force President Obama’s hand on the issue. Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans to back the measure.

This bill “is an important accomplishment for the country,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “We are hoping the president upon reflection will agree to sign on to a bill that the State Department said could create up to 42,000 jobs and the State Department said creates little to no impact on the environment.”

Still the vote was short of the threshold needed to override a veto, and the legislation still must be reconciled with the version the House passed.

Most Democrats framed the bill as a gift to a foreign oil company that would have little benefit for the American people.