WASHINGTON – The Keystone XL pipeline is the Frankenstein of the Senate. It has died,but it is likely to come back to life.
Two procedural votes on cloture Monday night failed to close Senate debate on pipeline.
The Senate failed to invoke cloture on an amendment and on the bill on 53-39 votes. Invoking cloture means the Senate can overcome a threatened filibuster and end debate on amendments and the bill and proceed to final votes. Cloture requires 60 votes.
Before the votes,Sen. Mitch McConnell,R-Ky.,called for the parties to work together to quickly pass the bill.
“Let’s keep up the positive momentum generated by a more open legislative process that’s benefited both parties,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Sarah A. Binder,George Washington University political science professor,said McConnell called for the cloture vote to “set up the end game” to get the bill passed.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been debated in Congress for six years. Oil company TransCanada wants to construct a pipeline through Montana,South Dakota and Nebraska. Because the pipeline crosses an international border,the company needs presidential permission to build the pipeline. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the way the pipeline route was chosen in the state is constitutional.
On the same day in early January,the House passed its version of the bill to take the decision about the pipeline out of the president’s hands on a 266-153 vote.
Sen. Barbara Boxer,D-Calif.,argued strongly against the bill Monday,saying there had not been enough time for debate.
“We still have this sort of gag-a-thon from the other side,” Boxer said.
McConnell switched his vote from yes to no Monday when it became clear that cloture would not pass. Because McConnell ended up in the minority,he can now ask for another cloture vote in the future.
Binder expects McConnell will be successful with a vote once he allows a few more amendments to be added to the bill.
Eight senators did not vote. Sen. John McCain,R-Ariz.,was in Saudi Arabia with President Barack Obama as he paid respects after the death of the country’s king. Sen. Mark Kirk,R-Ill.,was ill,according to his office. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had eye surgery Monday.
Calls to the other five senators’ offices were not returned.
Reach reporter Tori Knueven at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.