The GOP, desirous of overriding Barack Obama’s veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, failed to do so on Wednesday, with the vote 62-37—five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed.
This was the first time Congress has voted to override an Obama veto. The GOP voted unanimously for the override and was joined by eight Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mark Warner (VA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bob Casey Jr. (PA), Michael Bennet (CO), Tom Carper (DE), and Jon Tester (MT).
Indiana GOP Sen. Dan Coats said bitterly, “The Senate’s failure to override President Obama’s veto is a defeat for our economy and American workers. Obama and a majority of Senate Democrats have said no to creating new jobs and increasing our energy security. Despite support from the majority of Americans, this important pro-growth project remains in political paralysis.”
But the GOP has other plans to get the pipeline approved; Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who wrote the bill, said the GOP will probably attach the legislation to a long-term transportation funding bill that faces a May 31 deadline. That idea has Keystone backers confident of its passage; they believe that Barack Obama would not veto the six-year highway bill even if the pipeline is attached to it.
Manchin admitted, “This is coming back in the form an infrastructure bill, a road bill that we are all voting for.”
The same Democrats that voted to override Obama also approved of the Keystone oil sands project in January.
Hoeven sounded confident of ultimate victory, asserting, “If we don’t win the battle today, we will win the war, because we will attach it to another piece of legislation.”
Environmentalist advocate Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) blustered, “If Sen. Hoeven wants to play more hostage politics with the Keystone pipeline that simply revives the two big failures of their disastrous first two months. If they want to go that way, the politician in me says, ‘please.’”
Obama had said that no final decision could be made on the pipeline until the State Department finished its impact studies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). had responded to Obama’s veto by saying, “By vetoing the bipartisan Keystone jobs bill, President Obama sided with [the] moneyed special interests over the middle class.”