Will the Keystone Pipeline Bill Pass the Senate?

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Nov 17, 2014 3:30 PM
Will the Keystone Pipeline Bill Pass the Senate?

Perhaps. But not without first ticking off a few of the Left's most active and core supporters. To wit:

A number of environmental activists will protest the Keystone XL pipeline on Monday outside the Washington, D.C. home of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

Landrieu, who is facing a tough runoff election in December, pushed for a vote on the oil sands project in the Senate last week and is one vote shy of the 60 needed to pass the legislation.

National Journal confirmed last week Sen. Landrieu is indeed "one vote shy." So close, yet so far:

Mary Landrieu is one vote away from achieving a political dream.

With 60 votes, the embattled Louisiana Democrat could secure a filibuster-proof majority to approve the Keystone XL pipeline when a bill she has sponsored authorizing the project comes to the Senate floor next Tuesday.

But Landrieu does not appear to have 60 votes—at least not yet.

For months, it has looked like there are at least 57 Senate votes in support of the long-stalled project, which would transport heavy crude from Canada's oil sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast. In the last week, that count has risen to 59.

Every Senate Republican has pledged to support the House-passed measure, as have a number of Senate Democrats. But the bill will likely lose steam, of course, if supporters do not garner the requisite 60 votes. The vote is slated for sometime tomorrow.

But where will this 60th vote come from? National Journal speculates that Landrieu is seriously courting at least two fence-sitters in her own caucus who have not yet definitively ruled out supporting the measure: Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). At the eleventh hour, can she get at least one of them on board? Or perhaps another Senate Democrat?

Yesterday, for his part, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) called the bill a “no-brainer." But he also had this to say about his Democratic colleagues:

“[T]his is an issue, a no-brainer in the eyes of the American public, which finally, finally is coming to the floor of the United States Senate not because they're worried about American jobs, but because they're worried about the job of a senator from Louisiana.”

Even so, if the measure passes this would be a huge political victory for congressional Republicans and set up a major political standoff between supporters of the bill and President Obama. By all accounts, the president already has his veto pen ready. But if he does exercise that right, an already unpopular president could find himself, well, even more unpopular. Why? I’ll leave you with this:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the major oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, while just 27% are opposed. This includes 37% who Strongly Favor the project and 14% who Strongly Oppose it. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)