Congress OKs Keystone XL pipeline bill; President Obama expected to veto
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama will have 10 days to issue a veto on a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline once it hits his desk, now that the House has passed a final version, 270-152.
Twenty-nine Democrats voted with Republicans on Wednesday to pass the measure, which Obama has repeatedly said he will veto. He believes the decision to build the pipeline should rest with the executive branch. Michigan GOP Rep. Justin Amash was the only Republican to vote against the legislation.
Neither the House nor the Senate passed the proposal by a wide enough margin to override a presidential veto.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner mocked Obama’s promised veto on the bill, saying the President is “standing with a bunch of left-fringe extremists and anarchists.”
Wednesday’s vote to allow construction to begin on the pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico will trigger the first veto by the President since the GOP took control of both the House and Senate earlier this year.
Congressional Republicans say the Keystone project will create new jobs and maintain that public opinion is on their side.
“This project has been awaiting approval for more than 2,300 days. The Nebraska Supreme Court struck down the challenge against it, 58% of Americans said they support it, and a bipartisan majority in both chambers of Congress approved it,” Tennessee Rep. Diane Black said on the House floor on Wednesday.
Noting the administration’s opposition, Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings said it’s “highly improbable at best” that the bill will become law, and the GOP-controlled Congress should instead be focused on putting forward proposals to spur the economic recovery that the President would sign.
Opponents of the pipeline dispute the estimates of the number of jobs that would be generated by its approval.
At a post-vote rally just outside the House floor, Republicans urged the president to reconsider his veto.
Louisiana Rep Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House GOP leader, said the White House’s argument for holding off on the pipeline’s approval — an outstanding legal case in Nebraska — was resolved.
“The President has got every reason to sign this bill,” Scalise said.
But the President has argued that the decision whether or not to sign off on the pipeline should reside with the executive branch, not with Congress. The State Department, which is charged with reviewing the impact of the new project, is still reviewing feedback from various agencies who have reviewed the pipeline plans.
Despite the fact that previous votes have fallen short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the President’s wishes, Senate Republicans are expected to attempt to bring up the bill again after the expected veto to try to draw a contrast on the issue.