In a bid meant to bolster the campaign of bill sponsor Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is in a runoff election for a Louisiana Senate seat, the House voted 252-161 on Friday to once again approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
It was the ninth time the House has passed a measure authorizing the construction of the pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to Texas. But this time, with an election far off in the distance, 31 Democrats voted with 221 Republicans in favor of the bill. One Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted present, as he has previously done on such votes.
"It has been 539 days, a year and half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress," Cassidy said Thursday night when the House debated the bill, noting that multiple Keystone measures had been collecting proverbial dust on the proverbial desk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Cassidy also noted that this bill was identical to the bill in the upper chamber that could, in an effort to help Cassidy's Democratic opponent — Sen. Mary Landrieu — get a vote in the Senate next week.
Cassidy didn't seem to mind that Senate tactic. "We are going to make it as easy as possible for the Senate to finally get a bill to the president's desk that approves this long overdue Keystone XL Pipeline," he said.
But the bill would still need 60-votes in the Democratic Senate before heading to President Barack Obama's desk — a tall, but perhaps achievable order. There are roughly a dozen Democrats who have voiced support for Keystone in the past, but clearing the 60-vote threshold is an open question. Either way, the vote will allow Landrieu to show she is firmly for the pipeline's construction and not beholden to Obama, who has long advocated against the project.
The pipeline has been under review for six years, with federal regulators taking in nearly 2 million comments as they drafted environmental impact statements.
The White House has not definitively said what they would do should the bill reach the president's desk, though White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has suggested Obama could veto it.
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