On Thursday, the Senate approved the Keystone XL pipeline with a 62-36 vote. The vote comes as President Obama holds to his promise to veto the controversial project. The Keystone veto would be Obama’s third veto in six years.
Despite approval, the bill still lacks enough votes in the House and the Senate to override a presidential veto. Specifically, it would take four more Democrat votes in the Senate and dozens in the House to be able to override Obama’s veto. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, hopes that the President will change his mind and allow the pipeline to become a reality.
“We are hoping the president upon reflection will agree to sign on to a bill that the State Department said could create up to 42,000 jobs and the State Department said creates little to no impact on the environment,” he said. McConnell said the bill is “an important accomplishment for the country.”
House Speaker John Boehner joined McConnell in calling on President Obama to let go of his veto threats. “We hope President Obama will now drop his threat to veto this common-sense bill that would strengthen our energy security and create thousands and thousands of new, good-paying American jobs,” Boehner said.
Following Thursday’s vote, The White House reiterated its intention to block the Keystone bill, and Democrats maintained that it would have little benefit for the American people due to the fact that most of Keystone XL’s oil would be exported.
“This bill is a disgrace,” Sen. Barbara Boxer said. “We tried on our side to make this a better bill and they turned us away."
Environmentalists have long been concerned about the pipeline’s effects on climate change, and called on President Obama to reject the project.
“The facts are clear: the Keystone XL pipeline will only create 35 permanent jobs while dumping millions of tons of carbon pollution into the air and threatening waterways and communities across the Midwest,” NextGen Climate PAC founder Tom Steyer said.
Many environmentalists and Keystone opponents said that despite the approval, the debates put Republican senators on the record acknowledging the existence of climate change.
“The only positive aspect of this debate has been that some amendments did put senators on the record on issues that truly matter — starting with climate change,” Natural Resources Defense Council Canada Project Director Danielle Droitsch said.