The Senate threw down the gauntlet to Barack Obama on Thursday, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and sending it to the president, who has said he would veto it. The bill passed 62-36, with 53 Republicans and nine Democrats voting for the measure. The House has passed a similar bill, with slight differences, thus leaving those differences to be resolved before the bill is sent to the White House. 67 votes are needed to override Obama’s expected veto. Marco Rubio, who will vote for the bill if an override is attempted, was not present.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote was taken:
Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy. It would support thousands of good American jobs, and as the president’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact. The past few weeks have ben a whirlwind. But the Keystone jobs debate has been important for the Senate and for our country. The Keystone infrastructure project has been studied endlessly, from almost every possible angle, and the same general conclusion keeps becoming clear: Build it.
The 1.179-mile pipeline would stretch from Canada’s tar sands to Nebraska, then connect to pipelines already in existence from Nebraska down to the Gulf Coast.
McConnell said after the bill was passed, “This is a happy day on several counts.” A rare show of respect from Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois elicited a collegial response from McConnell; Durbin, who was obstreperous in his criticism of Republicans when Democrats were in the majority, tucked his tail between his legs and said, What I’ve seen on the floor the last several weeks is the Senate I remember, the Senate I was elected to. I hope that in our role in the minority we can work with you, with a feeling of mutual respect, to achieve, at least, debate on the floor if not some significant legislation.”
McConnell responded, “I agree that this has been good for the Senate, good for both parties, good for America for getting back to normal and I thank the senator for his comments and his cooperation.”