Democrats blocked the controversial oil pipeline Keystone XL bill from moving forward thanks to a lengthy filibuster — the first Senate filibuster of 2015.
The Jan. 26 filibuster forced Republicans to extend the debate on climate change and the Keystone XL pipeline, and gave Democrats the opportunity to further push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell towards holding more amendment debates and continuing the conversation. The absence of two Democrats who supported blocking President Barack Obama from having the ability to decide on Keystone was also a major contributing factor in the failed vote. The final vote was 53-39, just shy of the 60 votes needed to for the bill to advance.
“We’re not trying to prove a point to Senator McConnell,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “We hope his takeaway is that he’s got to keep the process open.”
Pro-Keystone Democrats and Republicans have been anxious to end the debates and decide on the issue once and for all. “I’d like to see us decide Keystone and move on,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said.
Republicans anticipated the outcome of the vote, knowing that the weather-related absences would prevent them from garnering 60 votes. “This is really disappointing,” McConnell said before the vote took place. “It's about time to bring the Keystone debate to a positive conclusion, and we'll do that soon.”
The vote comes after McConnell angered Democrats last week when he abruptly cut a Keystone amendment debate short for reasons many believed had to due with a GOP event funded by the Koch brothers. “It didn't leave a very good taste in the mouth of many Democrats,” Sen. Richard Durbin said. “There are still major unresolved issues.”