Passage of the Keystone Pipeline by the Senate will put the ball squarely in President Obama’s Court.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House passed legislation Friday approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, setting the stage for a Senate showdown that mixes energy politics with a fight over Louisiana’s Senate seat.
The vote was 252-161 in favor of the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in an effort to boost his chances to take Louisiana’s Senate seat away from Democrat Mary Landrieu. The two are headed for a Dec. 6 runoff and have been touting their energy credentials in their oil and gas-producing state.
Landrieu, who is facing an uphill battle to retain her seat, successfully pushed the Democratic-run Senate to hold a vote on the measure next week.
The bill was supported by 221 Republicans, and not a single GOP lawmaker voted against it. Thirty-one Democrats also backed the bill, while 161 rejected it.
The House voted Friday to authorize the long-stalled Keystone pipeline, an action that Republicans arranged after Senate Democrats flip-flopped and decided to hold their own Keystone vote in an effort to save the Senate seat of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
When the Senate signaled it would move on Keystone, House Republicans introduced an identical bill that the House passed easily on Friday in a 252-161 vote — 31 Democrats voted with Republicans, and seven of them are from Texas, a state the pipeline is expected to help economically.
That’s an improvement among Democrats from 2013, when 19 Democrats voted to approve the pipeline.
The House vote, in addition to the sudden movement in the Senate, shows once again that support for the project exists in both parties, even though it has been blocked for political reasons in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had prohibited a clean vote on the pipeline over fears that it would hurt Democrats, and advance a project that the Obama administration opposes.
But when faced with the possibility that Landrieu will lose her seat in a December runoff election, Democrats quickly changed their minds and agreed to vote on Keystone. Landrieu has supported the project for years, and Democrats are hoping that approving the pipeline will give Landrieu something to take back to voters before her runoff election, which she is expected to lose.