The Keystone amendment is non-binding, as the Obama Administration has the final say over its approval, but last night's vote was a strong sign that the Keystone Pipeline enjoys broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and that the Obama Administration's opposition might be wearing thin.
The Washington Post points out that the Democrats who joined Republicans are all electorally vulnerable:
The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran Baucus to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).
Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.
Additionally, a crop of Democrats who survived difficult reelections in 2012 — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — all supported the GOP Keystone amendment.
Rising pro-Keystone sentiment among Democrats may be a sign that the tide is shifting. Even if Democrats are merely pushing a cynical play for votes, it would mean that they do think that approval of the Keystone Pipeline is a vote-moving issue for middle-of-the-road voters. Whether the Obama Administration agrees is still up in the air.
Even pro-environmentalist progressives are agreeing at this point that left-wing activists should give up on Keystone. Bill Scher wrote that environmental activist groups have "blown it" on Keystone, and their dedication to the symbolism of the Keystone Pipeline was detracting from more important issues.