The Senate, late Friday, gave important symbolic support for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, delivering crude oil from Canada to US refineries. The vote on the amendment to the Senate budget draft won support from all Republicans and, importantly, 17 Democrats. While the amendment is non-binding, the 62 votes in support are enough to overcome any future filibuster on the issue.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) argued strenuously on the Senate floor against the amendment, offered by ND GOP Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). He has promised to bring forward a stand-alone bill that would force the White House to approve the pipeline, stretching from the Canadian border to Texas. The fact that almost one-third of the Democrat caucus defected from Boxer and environmentalists on the issue suggests a stand-alone bill would prevail.
The vote puts new pressure on the Obama Administration to approve the pipeline project. The southern portion of the pipeline, which didn’t require White House approval, is already under construction. The Senate vote indicates that even Democrats are growing impatient with the delay.
The Democrats who supported the measure were Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) (Colo.), Tom Carper (Del.), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) (Ind.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) (N.D.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (Mo.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (Fla.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) (Mont.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (Va.).
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