The Democrat-led, U.S. Senate rejected the Keystone XL pipeline on November 18 despite supporters’ claims that the project will create 42,000 jobs and help lead to energy independence.
The 59-41 vote had bi-partisan support, but 60 votes were needed to pass. The 41 “no” votes were cast by 39 Democrats and two Independents.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the Democrats put party over progress.“Today Democrat dysfunction once again prevailed over a job-creating project voters overwhelmingly support and is firmly in the national interest,” he said.
Fourteen Democrats crossed party lines and joined with Republicans in an attempt to pass the measure (S.2280) and send it for approval to President Barack Obama, who had indicated he would veto it.
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on US gas prices,” Obama said in Myanmar on November 14.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) countered Obama’s claim that it doesn’t help Americans. Scott said it would help make energy more affordable plus create jobs.
“While we all agree our energy policy should promote sustainable, accessible and affordable sources of energy – decision-makers too often forget the affordable piece,” he said. “Keystone provides opportunity not only to address that issue in the broader topic of energy, but to specifically address issues faced by millions and millions of Americans – unemployment and energy poverty.”
Joining the majority, losing vote was Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu (LA), who is in a runoff to maintain hold of the Senate seat. Following the Republican wave during the mid-term elections, Landrieu encouraged her fellow Democrats to support construction of the 1,179-mile, oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The projected new jobs could have benefited Louisiana, she said.
“The message is that now is the time to stop the bickering, stop the fighting, stop the gridlock, and take action on issues the American people know are the right answers for our country, focusing on building jobs and economic hope for the middle class, in large measure because of this extraordinary opportunity for an energy renaissance that is underway as we speak–energy jobs, petrochemical jobs, manufacturing jobs,” she said in a November 12 speech on the Senate floor.
Priebus specifically called out Landrieu, who had reportedly been lobbying other Democrats to vote for it to help boost her re-election bid, for failing to persuade enough of them to pass it.
“Keystone’s failure in the Democrat-led Senate is another reminder Mary Landrieu is only effective when it comes to delivering for President Obama and that she enables the gridlock voters rejected at the polls two weeks ago,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the new Republican majority will bring the bill to another vote when they assume control and the 114th Congress convenes in January, 2015.
“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,” he said.
Although the Republicans could garner the needed 60 votes then, they would need 67 votes to override a certain Obama veto.