Senate Keystone vote expected to be close; Obama lobbying Democrats
March 8th, 2012
12:13 PM ET
6 years ago

Senate Keystone vote expected to be close; Obama lobbying Democrats

Washington (CNN) - A razor close vote is expected in the Senate Thursday on a Republican amendment to bypass the Obama administration's objections and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Senate aides from both parties told CNN. Democratic aides, however, expressed some optimism the provision would be defeated.

President Obama lobbied wavering Democrats by phone to shore up Democratic support for his position, a senior Democratic source told CNN. It could be embarrassing for the White House if a large number of Democrats voted to overturn the administration's Keystone policy, which has been hotly debated as gas prices continue to rise during this election year. Several Democrats, including moderates up for re-election and those from oil producing states, support the Keystone pipeline but are torn whether to split with the president.

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Congressional Republicans blasted the president for twisting arms of fellow Democrats.

"By personally lobbying against the Keystone pipeline, it means the President of the United States is lobbying for sending North American energy to China and lobbying against American jobs," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference.

To make matters more difficult for the administration, Democratic aides said reports last week that former President Bill Clinton came out in favor of building the pipeline are making it harder for Democratic senators to oppose it.

The measure needs 60 votes to pass which means, with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois out sick, Republicans will need to pick up 14 Democratic votes for the amendment to pass.

A vote is expected sometime after 4 p.m.

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Filed under: Congress • Energy • President Obama
soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    those hundred of jobs created will be a real boost to the GOP.....NOT

    March 8, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Guest

    Prime example of what's wrong with our politics on BOTH sides of the aisle. Instead of voting for whoever can give you the better deal or bigger guilt trip, maybe these guys should try to figure out how the people of their state want them to vote, and then vote THAT way?

    March 8, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. a in austin

    This product is going overseas anyway – none for US consumption. The gop governor of NE wants the pipeline rerouted. Politicians just want their pockets lined.

    March 8, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |

    Democrats: Vote NO!!!

    Mr. Boehner needs to explain to me in detail how he can guarantee that another horrific disaster like the Gulf spill doesn't happen. He needs to explain the environmental risks. It's not that we're against the pipeline as a whole, we just haven't been given enough information regarding it and the safety concerns. The only information I keep hear regarding this pipeline is the Exxon commercial that emphasizes they can create a million new jobs from these "canadian oil sands." Why doesn't the commercial point out that the Keystone Pipeline is what they are referencing in the commercial?

    March 8, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Isn't just wonderful?! Obama and the Democrats fighting tooth and nail to STOP bringing new oil to market and STOP job creation in the USA. All to please his looney left base at the expense of THOUSANDS of people BEGGING for jobs in this country. Total insanity! And the lying Obama and Democrats claim they are for the middle class! NEXT JOKE!! All you unemployed people can just go to the back of the bus and wait while Obama works on getting re-elected FIRST. Hopefully you won't lose your house in the meantime. Hopefully you won't be added to the foodstamp rolls in the meantime.

    Obama and Democrats.... the country simply cannot afford their insanity any longer.

    March 8, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    This is how disastrous industrial accidents begin. Rushing through the approvals, completely bypassing the checks and balances of the review process.

    This pipeline does not benefit "oil companies." This pipeline benefits an "oil company." The pipeline goes from Canada, straight to the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, that company must sell its' products at a discount because of higher transportation costs associated with the new generation of super tankers having to sail around South America. The new super tankers cannot fit through the Panama Canal, which is undergoing renovations so that they can fit.

    Meanwhile, the US enjoys the benefit of buying the discounted products without the overhead of high transportation costs. What do you think is going to happen to our purchase price when the pipeline is finished, removing the overhead of the high transportation costs? Our domestic prices will go up, of course.

    March 8, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. HunterPSU

    B.O. is slowing down drilling. Funny when his hopium smoker followers quote...drilling is up under B.O. as proof he is doing something. Drilling up in state and private lands. Drilling down in gulf of mexico because of moratorium and other federal lands because of B.O. environmental policies slowing things down. Natural gas drilling and fracturing a big part of up. guess what B.O. against that to. The Keystone pipeline is a delay because B.O. does not want the militant enviro crowd protesting against him. He will approve right after the election. B.O. leadership? or B.O. leading from behind once again.

    March 8, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. R

    @ Guest
    "maybe these guys should try to figure out how the people of their state want them to vote, and then vote THAT way?"

    Good point. The problem though is that it means those guys would actually have to do their jobs for once. Not sure how they would handle that.

    March 8, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. NVa Native

    It's great we have a President who works for the American people.

    March 8, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Pam from Iowa

    The GOP is pushing for this because their biggest donors (big oil) are pushing it!
    And dont be fooled by the rhetoric – this will NOT create a lot of jobs – a handful maybe.

    March 8, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. billy

    The senators or congress people who vote the way the people they represent want don't last very long in Washington-Oh my- hard to believe that others have NOT noticed this FACT!

    March 8, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth wrote:

    Isn't just wonderful?! Obama and the Democrats fighting tooth and nail to STOP bringing new oil to market and STOP job creation in the USA. ......
    Job creation in the USA? Most of the permanent jobs will be on the new super tanker ports they will have to build on the Texas coastline, using imported steel, of course. Most of the oil industry's new construction is highly automated with advanced industrial process controls, and much more accurate and reliable equipment.

    There will not be anywhere near the 100,000 jobs that Republicans have promised. Almost all of the pipeline can be monitored and operated remotely. I would expect the telecommunication industry to be able to create more jobs from the pipeline than the oil industry. Transcontinental pipeline right-of-ways are also used as right-of-ways for communication backbones, too. But again, all of the equipment will be remotely monitored and operated.

    You can expect less than 10,000 temporary construction jobs to be created, which will lead to 4000 permanent jobs, most of which will be on the oil docks.

    March 8, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Joe

    Boehner say s
    North American Energy will go to China?? Does he really think this raw Canadian energy is going to be refined in China??? Give me a break!

    March 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Terry

    Hey, Truth, you need to change your name. Where do you think this "oil" is going now? Canada currently has no means to export it, except to the good ol' US of A. Their own governments will not allow a pipeline west, so export that way is not an option. East is not an option unless they build a pipeline all the way to the maritime provinces, which they won't do. So right now, they have one option, and that is us. If they are allowed to build this pipeline, the world shall be their oyster, and we will get the shaft. As for jobs, these jobs, whether there's a hundred or a million, will be transient and temporary, and will most likely be given to Canadians already working for the company building the pipeline. How 'bout instead we just build the Hyperion refinery in SD and a pipeline from the Bakken there. Shale oil is enviormentally bad, but it's so much better than tar sands....

    March 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. NVa Native

    The GOP and their masters think environmental disasters are just part of doing business. So long as it's profitable they don't mind having oil on our beaches, pollution in public drinking water, poison in our air, birth defects for our children – all just part the cost of their endless greed.

    March 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    This pipeline will be bad for Mr Buffet's trucking company. His trucks now take this oil to their destination.

    March 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. Joshua Gonzalez

    This pipeline will not lower the price of oil and most of the jobs created will be in Canada. The only reason the oil industry wants it is to make money for them.

    March 8, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. DC Johnny

    Hey Rudy – Pipelines like this get passed, debated, and approved much faster than this one has... during a non-election year. Obama has turned the ordinary process of approving energy pipelines into a political bargaining chip, and it's going to blow up in his face. Obama is doing nothing short of advocating a filibuster on a perfectly sound piece of legislation.

    Every positive announcement regarding energy production – much of which has been announced by Obama himself – was the direct result of Bush leases and the success of private land production. The growth in production has happened IN SPITE of Obama's meddling, and certainly not because of it.

    March 8, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Audra

    This is the problem with party politics. I want to see the leaders of these states vote in the best interest for the citizens THEY REPRESENT instead of being chained to whatever their President wants them to do. It will be interesting to see if these politicians have the guts to stand up against party lines.

    March 8, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. mariner v

    Keystone is nothing more than a bait and switch hustle by the Republicans. As noted the oil is going overseas for the most part. The jobs promised is miniscule compared to what the JOBS Bill would provide. But more importantly, none of the effects of even passing Keystone would kick in for years. So for all of the talk it will not bring down gas prices at all. Everyone knows that Wall St speculation adds over 25% per barrel to the cost of oil. So the only way oil is going to come down is if someone legislates it and know one is going to do that. Free market principles are very expensive and anything but free! So once again, who gains? Big oil gains as the expense of everyone else. It is comparable to being invited to a banquet and the GOP and Big Oil get to eat a six course meal and the rest of us get the bread crumbs. How about doing something for the country for a change? Pass the JOBS Bill, and we the people benefit for a change.

    March 8, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Jamie Gammon

    All this pipeline is going to do is pollute our environment, and we aren't going to see any benefits from it. The oil will cross the United States from Canada down to the gulf coast, only to be shipped to other countries, and none of it will be used in this country. So, no jobs will be created, but actually lost, since our truckers won't be bringing the oil over. It is a way for Canada to save money, but environmental studies have shown that the pipelines to move tar sand oil will require toxic chemicals to be used with it to move it down the pipe, and extreme pressure to move it quickly. The pipelines are more prone to failure than traditional oil pipelines. If a pipeline burst occurs, we are introducing toxic chemicals into ground water as well as rivers and streams. This can cause an environmental disaster than could cost billions to clean up. Since this company is based out of Canada, people would have a hard time collecting from a lawsuit they file against the company. Democrats should be ashamed for even considering voting for this polluting legislation. I would expect a right-wing extremist Republican for voting for this legislation, but not any Democrats. For Bill Clinton to actually endorse this it scares me. Please vote "NO" on this legislation that will hurt American jobs, and our environment rather than help us out one bit.

    March 8, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  22. PR

    @ Truth and Nothing But the Truth – Wow you're handle couldn't be further than the truth. There are no thousands of jobs to be created, at the most hundreds and not for a few years. Not to mention the GOP governor of Nebraska doesn't want the pipeline running through his state and wants it delayed until they can find an alternate path, but the GOP stance of letting states decide for themselves is only lip service when their decisions aren't in the best interest of the wealthy pocketbooks right? Keep backing your Mittens, you know the guy who was for sending jobs overseas to make a fortune before he was running for president and now wants to bring those jobs back.

    March 8, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    "To make matters more difficult for the administration, Democratic aides said reports last week that former President Bill Clinton came out in favor of building the pipeline are making it harder for Democratic senators to oppose it. "
    Atta boy, Bubba!

    March 8, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Dale

    Little but of information about sand oil, it is extremely heavy and dirty and very hard to refine it takes a special refinery for this kind of oil, if you look at the map of this pipeline it goes straight to the special refineries that can refine this heavy oil and they just happened to be on the Gulf Coast.

    And the United States will benefit very little from this oil, it is being sold to other countries including the asphalt that could repair thousands of miles of highways here United States.

    March 8, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Hopeful

    Pipeline projected cost $7 Billion; with overruns (always) probably total $12 Billion; probably subsidized by tax payers. Why? I think I could build a refinery in North Dakota (or wherever this is crossing the border) for less than $7 Billion. Ensuring USA jobs. Without another nasty leaky pipeline.

    March 8, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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