Keystone XL Greenlight Has 57 Votes in the Senate, But Is 67 the Magic Number?

The Senate seems close to voting on a Keystone XL “green-light” bill.  And, even better for Keystone-backers, the bill is edging close to 60 votes.  But it’ll likely need 67 to bypass the White House’s predicted veto.

The Senate may vote on approving Keystone without White House approval in exchange for Republican votes on a energy efficiency bill sponsored by Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Bob Portman (R-OH).  

The White House isn’t thrilled, and appears likely to veto any bill green lighting Keystone.  That would, in turn, require 67 votes in the Senate and 290 in the House.  So, not only would Republicans need another handful of Democratic Senators, they’d also need–at a minimum–57 Democratic votes in the House (or 25% of the Democratic, Nancy Pelosi-led Democratic caucus).

From today’s The Hill:

Eleven Democrats are among the 56 senators backing the bill, which would immediately give pipeline developer TransCanada the green light on a permit to begin construction of Keystone XL, according to a release from Landrieu’s office. 

Democrats discussed the issue during a meeting on Thursday, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expressed optimism a deal would be reached to allow a vote.

“There’s a 70-80 percent chance we can work something out on Keystone,” he said Thursday. 

Earlier this week, Reid said he wanted to bring an energy efficiency bill to the floor, but Republicans are trying to have a larger debate on energy issues.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Republicans aren’t interested in a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate vote on Keystone, which would not have any legal effect. The Senate voted on a similar nonbinding measure last year.

From the National Post earlier this week:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in an abrupt election-year shift in strategy, opened the possibility on Tuesday of allowing a vote on congressional approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“I’m open to anything that will move energy efficiency,” Reid, a long-time foe of the project, told reporters.

He was referring to a bill that would save energy through tougher building codes sponsored by senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, that the Senate is expected to consider as early as next week.

Details were unclear, but in exchange for Republicans supporting the efficiency bill, Reid could permit a vote on a measure that would allow Congress to approve the bill of the pipeline. The vote could allow Democratic senators facing tough elections in November to be seen as supporting the project.



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