With the Keystone XL pipeline’s route yet to be finalized, its job prospects not firmly established and the project’s carbon footprint seemingly bigger than originally calculated, the White House said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would most likely veto any Congressional attempts to force a decision.
"I can confirm for you that if this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn't sign it either," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on January 6, according to USA Today and other media. "And that's because there is already a well established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interests of the country."
The Keystone XL drama rounded out 2014 with a narrow defeat in the Senate after having passed the House of Representatives. Now, with both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans, legislators have vowed to make it a priority to push through bills that would force the project to move forward. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell at the end of last year said Keystone XL will be the first agenda item for the newly Republican Congress when it reconvenes this year. In addition, Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has convened a business meeting on the bill for January 8.
Their ultimate goal would be to get a veto-proof majority, which would render the White House’s declaration and Obama’s pen moot. That would take a two-thirds vote in each Chamber of Congress. Currently the Senate is four votes shy of what it would take, Bloomberg reported on January 5.
The legislation introduced by Senator John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, has 63 votes, he told Bloomberg, but a veto would require 67. In November the bill garnered 59 votes, falling just one short of the 60 needed to pass. The measure fell just one vote short of passing in the Senate in November, having passed the House 252-161.
Meanwhile, on January 6 in South Dakota, the Yankton Sioux, three other tribes and a host of environmental groups, ranchers and other interested parties are arguing for a dismissal of TransCanada’s permit to run the pipeline through the state before the Public Utilities Commission.