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Keystone XL Pipeline Tag

As Ed Morrissey comments at Hot Air, "Profiles in Courage this ain’t." At a campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday, an attendee asked Hillary if she would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Her answer, if you can call it one, was that she would answer the question if and when she becomes president. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wasn't impressed:
Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous hedge on Keystone XL "If it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question," Clinton said. "This is President Obama's decision. I'm not going to second-guess him." Er, what? Clinton went on to note that she was in a position unique among the 2016 field due to her time as secretary of state. "I'm in a different position than any other candidate," Clinton said. "I was there. I put this process together. I oversaw it for four years." (Because the pipeline would begin in Canada, its approval -- or not -- is in the hands of the State Department.) Uh huh.

We knew this day was coming, although we'd hoped that somewhere in his heart, President Obama might find the decency to pass legislation that would create thousands of jobs, reinvigorate communities and small towns, likely decrease the instances of exploding trains, and pump much needed cash into our fledgling economy. Alas... Some have speculated that because the pipeline would've run through red states, President Obama would never be willing to reward those states with economic bounty. But we've been assured that the bipartisan, union-backed bill was vetoed because the President takes his job very seriously. Gregory Korte reports at USA Today:
"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in his veto message. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto."
Suddenly, the President is concerned about "well established executive branch procedures" *cough* executive immigration overreach *cough*. But I digress...

A train carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia Monday, causing a massive fires and forcing evacuations. Here's a report from the Associated Press via the New York Times:
West Virginia Train Derails, Sending Oil Tanker Into River Oil from North Dakota's shale fields was still burning in West Virginia a day after a train carrying more than 3 million gallons of crude derailed in a snowstorm, shooting fireballs into the sky. Hundreds of families were evacuated and nearby water treatment plants were temporarily shut down after 19 tanker cars left the tracks and caught fire, leaking oil into a Kanawha River tributary and burning a nearby house down to its foundation. "There's nothing there," said Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who toured the scene. "All you can see is a couple of blocks sticking out of the ground. There's some pickup trucks out front completely burned to the ground."
The flames caused by the crash were unbelievable: The accident has revived the debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline, a mode of fuel transport proponents claim is much safer.

Obama is getting ready to shoot down the Keystone pipeline bill in the first of what promises to be a blizzard of vetoes of legislation the current Congress is planning to pass. Never mind that the Keystone bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate 62-36 (nine Democrats joined) and in the House 266-153 (28 Democrats joined; although there will have to be another vote in the House within the next few days to align the two bills, it is expected to go similarly). From The Hill:
Still, if Obama vetoes too many bills, especially ones with Democratic support, Republicans could have success portraying him as partisan and unwilling to negotiate. “One veto doesn’t make him obstructionist,” said James Thurber, a professor of government at American University. “Now maybe after 3, 4, 5 vetoes, then they could start painting him that way.”
Portraying him. Painting him. Not, of course, that he is that way. Here's a statistic: since January, Obama has issued eight veto threats. That's "the most ever for the start of a new Congress." Obama thinks this projects strength, and to his supporters it most definitely does. When the Republicans---even when in the majority in the House, and even with Democratic support---tried to block something Obama was attempting, their actions were painted as unreasonable and stubborn obstructionism. Now, when Obama plans to block what a Republican-majority Congress has done, even when those Republicans have a significant amount of support from moderate Democrats, it's a show of strength and resolve.

Via AP:
Legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an initial Senate hurdle Monday, a victory for newly empowered Republicans angling for a quick veto showdown with President Barack Obama. The bipartisan 63-32 vote was 3 more than the 60 required, and well above the level the highly controversial measure ever gained in recent years when Democrats controlled the Senate.... But with more than enough votes at their command, Republican and Democratic supporters said they hoped the legislation could win final approval and be sent to the White House by the end of next week. "President Obama has every reason to sign the jobs and infrastructure bill that we will pass," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He noted that the Nebraska Supreme Court had recently rejected a legal challenge brought by opponents, an obstacle the White House had cited.
While this vote was important, backers of the pipeline will need to hold the line when it times to voting to close debate. That's when the arm-twisting by the White House will get real. But with 60 cosponsors, there may not be much the White House can do to avoid having to issue a veto. National Journal reports there are not currently enough votes to override a veto, but the open amendment process might help in that regard:

Yesterday, Senate Republicans attempted a procedural fast-track on the bipartisan Keystone XL jobs and infrastructure bill. The goal, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was to immediately begin processing amendments to the controversial bill with the end goal of getting it to the President as soon as possible. McConnell asked for unanimous consent to proceed with consideration of the bill, noting that amendments would be accepted from both sides of the aisle. The problem? Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) objected. Instead of being able to move forward immediately, Leader McConnell was forced to file cloture on the motion to proceed with the bill; this means that unless Senator Whitehouse drops his objection, the next vote on the bill will have to wait until 5:30 on Monday. What a petty start to the 114th Congress. In prepared remarks from earlier this week, Harry Reid insisted that, “[t]he mistakes of the past, the gratuitous obstruction and wanton filibustering will not be a hallmark of the Democratic minority in the 114th Congress.” (Apparently, we're meant to have forgotten the hundreds of bills and amendments that suffered and died in the hands of then-Majority Leader Reid.)

The new Republican congress was sworn in yesterday, and one of their first orders of business is an attempt to advance plans for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unfortunately, obstructionist Democrats in the Obama administration are standing in the way of progress. Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan of Reuters reported:
Republicans push Keystone bill, White House threatens veto Republican senators kicked off the new U.S. Congress with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada, but the White House promptly threatened a veto. With Republicans assuming full control of Congress on Tuesday after victories in the November elections, they have put Keystone at the center of their agenda and plan weeks of debate. They believe that the public spotlight on Keystone will pressure President Barack Obama to eventually approve the project. The White House was adamant that Obama would not sign the Keystone bill. "There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
A vote is set for Thursday.

Last time the Keystone XL Pipeline showed up on our radar, it was when embattled former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-efeated) attempted to use her support of the authorization bill to boost her spiraling poll numbers. That vote died at the hands of a single Democrat vote held hostage by former Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Landrieu lost the election, and Republicans left Washington ready to bide their time and pass Keystone with their incoming thin-but-comfortable majority. This time around, though, Republicans aren't just working to move a bill that by all accounts should pass the Senate without a second thought. On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a vote on legislation approving the pipeline; the bill is expected to move out of committee without much trouble, but this time around, Senate leadership is aiming not only for 60 votes, but for enough support to override a future Presidential veto. The first few weeks of the new Congress won't focus exclusively on energy, but instead on a series of issues Republicans are confident they can move through Congress and send to the President's desk. From Politico:
The goal, quite simply, is to begin passing bills that will clear both the House and the Senate and end up on President Barack Obama’s desk. Almost all of the bills Republicans will put on the floor passed the House last Congress, when Democrats held the majority in the Senate. The agenda was described by leadership aides who were not authorized to discuss the plan on the record.

UPDATED 7:34 pm EST This really says it all. UPDATED 7:15 pm EST That wasn't a long-shot vote. That was an exercise in punishment. The Senate has voted, and a productive and bipartisan measure has failed. Reid gave Landrieu a chance to vote "yea" on an energy bill, and Durbin made moves to insulate Democrats should anyone try to hold a member of his caucus accountable for an "anti-environment" vote. Reid's "strategy" on Keystone XL was designed to fail, and everyone---including Mary Landrieu---knew it. This may be the end of Landrieu's tenure in the Senate, but it's not the end of the road for Keystone. “Tonight, Senate Democrats once again stood in the way of a shovel-ready jobs project that would help thousands of Americans find work — a remarkable stance after an election in which the American people sent a clear message to Congress to approve serious policies like the Keystone XL Pipeline and get the Senate working again," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a statement following the vote. "Unfortunately, many Senate Democrats failed to hear that message. But once the 114th Congress convenes, the Senate will act again on this important legislation, and I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the New Year.” Anyone who watched the C-SPAN feed during the vote noticed something interesting---the rest of her caucus avoided Landrieu like she was surrounded by a forcefield. Many pundits have enjoyed the "Reid is giving her a chance to redeem her candidacy" narrative, but let's not pretend this was anything more than Democrats going through the motions and then pulling the rug out from under yet another lost cause.

It would be sad if it weren't so beautiful. With just a few weeks to go until the Louisiana Senate runoff, Bill Cassidy is taking advantage of incumbent Mary Landrieu's spiraling chances at re-election by pointing out Landrieu's unfortunate tendency to vote for Obama's pet policies a whopping 97% of the time. Cassidy's new ad, called "Represent You," hits Landrieu on the issue of immigration, which is reemerging in talking points in conjunction with Obama's impending executive action on amnesty. From the Washington Post:
An open-ended Gallup poll in October, less than a month before the midterm election, found only 7 percent of voters said immigration was the most important problem facing the country. The issue wasn't at the forefront of campaigns during the midterm, but occasionally popped up, as it did when Scott Brown (R) ran an ad on border security in New Hampshire over the summer, and when Arkansas' Tom Cotton (R) said terrorists were collaborating with Mexican drug cartels during a tele-town hall meeting in October. Republicans have positioned Obama's executive order, which would keep millions of immigrants from being deported, as an overstep of his authority, and Sen. John Boehner (R) has threatened to sue Obama.

Embattled Senator Mary Landrieu is in trouble, and Tuesday's vote on the Keystone XL pipeline approval might be her last chance to convince Louisiana voters that her representation in Washington is worth their vote. Challenger Bill Cassidy is up 16 points and by all accounts headed for a landslide win over the incumbent Democrat, who has come under fire from all sides but her own for not representing the interests of her home state. Landrieu's last-ditch effort to push for a vote on the pipeline looks more and more desperate, (at last count she had only 59 votes backing the project,) seeing as how the President would have to throw himself under the bus in order to stand behind Landrieu and green light the project. Via Fox News:
Most political analysts think Landrieu’s effort to win a fourth term by trying to show voters in oil-rich Louisiana how much she supports Keystone is a lost cause, with reports of Washington Democrats pulling out and polls showing Cassidy ahead by double digits. South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune said on “Fox News Sunday” the vote will be a “cynical attempt to save a Senate seat in Louisiana," considering Reid has blocked the vote for years. President Obama appears to be giving every indication that he will veto the bill, repeatedly saying the only way the $8 billion pipeline can be approved is after the completion of a long-stalled State Department review. There is also the pending outcome of a legal challenge to the pipeline's route through Nebraska. And during his recent trip to Australia for an economic summit Obama said: “I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.”
The media may be willing to run preliminary defense against a presidential veto, but members of her own party haven't been willing to stand by and let the token vote gain meaning:

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is facing a tough runoff with Republican challenger Representative Bill Cassidy, and she's doing her best to spearhead a legacy vote before Louisiana voters head to the polls in December. Landrieu, who currently chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is pushing for a Congressional vote approving the Keystone XL pipeline in hopes that it will ingratiate her with voters who haven't yet decided whose name to check on Election Day 2.0. Via CNN:
"This has been a project that has lingered far too long. It is clearly supported by 60 or more members of this body," Landrieu said on the Senate floor Wednesday, minutes after lawmakers kicked off their post-midterm election lame duck session. The Louisiana Democrat is fighting for her political life ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff election against Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. The Keystone XL pipeline represents a chance for Landrieu to flex her muscles on issues important to her energy-rich state one last time. Republicans have countered her moves by promising Cassidy a seat on the energy panel.
This move by Landrieu may ingratiate herself with the energy lobby, but if President Obama chooses to veto Congressional approval of the pipeline project, her efforts may be meaningless:
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