The House on Friday voted 252 to 161 to approve a bill that would direct the federal government to move forward on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday in the Senate that could send the measure to President Obama’s desk.
There is little chance that the votes will clear the way to construction of the long-fought, long-delayed pipeline, which would carry petroleum from the Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. In the Senate, where Democrats have a majority until the Republicans take over in January, it is unlikely, though not impossible, that the bill would attract 60 votes, enough to avoid a filibuster. But even if the bill does clear the Senate, Mr. Obama has signaled that he will probably veto it.
In other words, the bill is probably going nowhere -- at least not right now. Today's vote was largely agreed upon by both parties for political reasons. Nevertheless, the Senate will debate and vote on the House-passed legislation next Tuesday. (Republicans reportedly already have “58 of the 60 votes they would need” to assure passage). Will they get there?
Maybe, but it might not matter in the end; the president isn’t ready to act just yet:
At a press conference in Myanmar on Friday, Obama reaffirmed his argument that the Keystone XL decision should be made only after the State Department has completed its review. "I’ve been clear in the past," said Obama, according to The Hill. "My position hasn’t changed, that this is a process that is supposed to be followed."
Obama said that part of that process will include determining “whether or not [the pipeline] accelerates climate change," and also seemed to express frustration about having to "constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.”
That ruling will be handed down sometime in January, thus the safe bet is that the lame duck Congress will not resolve this issue.
I’ll leave you with this press release. It was issued by Speaker John Boehner’s office after the bill cleared the House:
Thousands more Americans would be working today if President Obama had put their priorities ahead of his political interests and approved the Keystone pipeline. Instead, he continues to block the project, and the new jobs, lower costs, and increased energy security it would provide. The House has voted numerous times to end the Obama administration’s needless delays, only to see those bills blocked by the outgoing Democratic majority in the Senate. The president doesn’t have any more elections to win, and he has no other excuse for standing in the way. It’s time he start listening to the vast majority of Americans who support Keystone and help get more people back to work.”