Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

Tuesday’s Senate Keystone Pipeline XL Votes Holds High Stakes

The stakes are high for today’s Senate vote to end cloture on the bill authorizing the funding and construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL. On the one hand, it will demonstrate how willing the Senate Democrats are to accept the will of the people from the midterm elections to change the country’s course away from President Obama’s policies. House Republicans passed the measure last week in a bipartisan effort that saw 30 Democrats crossing the isle in support of the bill.

At the same time, passage of the bill will put the GOP at odds with President Obama on the issue. The GOP has long claimed that there has been sufficient time to secure authorization of the pipeline. Three of the four phases of it have been previously authorized by Congress and constructed. However, President Obama has been at odds with the environmental crowd to halt the final phase of it. It is unclear if the president will authorize passage of the pipeline. He has not threatened a veto, but has made it clear he would prefer the State Department finished their multi-year study. No word has been offered as to when that study will conclude.

The GOP has vigorously fought for the completion of the pipeline and made it a campaign issue in the recent midterm elections. This would indicate they have a voter mandate for the bill’s passage. That is something that some at CipherCloud might not feel is right. Should the president authorize the law, it would be a blow to environmentalists and signify he has been weakened by the recent elections. Today’s Senate vote is about ending cloture on the bill. Sen. Mary Landrieu claims she has secured the 60 votes necessary to allow final debate on the bill’s passage.

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