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. Tom

    Obama does not want any more oil in this country. He wants all of us to switch from expensive gasoline to even more expensive alternative fuel.

    March 8, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Keith A. Sillsbury

    Say goodbye to washington repubs. we don't want it. we don't need it. and we aren't going to pay for it. If it was sooooo good then why are the Canadians trying so hard to pawn it off on us? that's because if anyone did their research they'd know, it costs more to get this sands oil out of the ground than you can make selling it. The end result it forcing the price of oil up not down.

    March 8, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. PR

    and there it is "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."

    Anything good was in spite of Obama or Bush, everything bad is always Obama's fault and had nothing to do with Bush. Just admit you hate the guy, for whatever reason you want to make up and lets move forward. The presidency of the US deserves respect whether you like the person in it or not. They were voted in by the people of the US and if you lost, tough, deal with it but stop disrespecting the office

    March 8, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Terry asked:

    "How 'bout instead we just build the Hyperion refinery in SD and a pipeline from the Bakken there. "
    Ummmmmmm... how are you going to get the refined products from South Dakota to market? Magic carpet? No disrespect, but there's a reason why refineries are next to deep water ports.

    March 8, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. cyg

    Better hope Ma Earth has decided she's done putting earthquakes right in your pipeline zone or the people of OK will be drinking and eating motor oil for years to come. Oh in case you forgot – those Earthquakes were ripping up your property just last year.

    March 8, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. tstorm

    NO PIPELINE! We don't get any permanent jobs from it and Canada makes all the money from the oil. Not a drop of it will land in US gas tanks....yet we take all the risks of an oil spill. No thanks!

    March 8, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Mark Alan Parker

    I hope the Dems have the guts to stand with the president on this one. The Keystone Pipeline is a horrible idea, both environmentally and economically. Stop it now, before it's too late to turn back!

    March 8, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. P

    Anyone who thinks this Oil will bring down priceshas no clue how it all works, this pipeline will bring more oil to market, but The World Market not the US market, It will be sold to who will pay the most. Remeber that thing you all on the GOP side cry about "FREE MARKET". The President can't regulate that it is sold only to the US to help the price, That Would Be Socilaism.

    March 8, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. BigRed

    After seeing what the extraction of the oil is doing to the Canadian environment, I'd say that halting this pipeline is important as an environmental protection effort.

    March 8, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. cali girl

    There is no truck that runs unprocessed oil. Nor does a train. If if was on a truck, then how do you get the raw goo out of it? Same thing with a train, how do you get the raw goo out? How do you get it in there?
    Take a trip out to Alaska and see how a pipelin works. And yes there are problems too, many leaks, spills. And the path for the Keystone pipline has those same concerns, even more so due to wetlands, environmental protections for wildlife and human consumption.

    March 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Al-NY,NY

    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.

    Mitch McConnell......"we will do everything we can to make sure Obama is a one-term president" And since not one of the states that this would create a few jobs in would vote for Obama anyway

    March 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Ricky L

    Is it the president who is shipping gasoline overseas?

    March 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Descarado

    And the Obamatron zombies smile when their Emperor tells them he has an energy policy.

    March 8, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. ThatsIt21

    Of course they want to make money, that's how the economy works!!!!!!!!
    This will create jobs, it is debatable how many, but it WILL create jobs. Since when is that a bad thing? Think also about all the ancillary income that will be distributed to all the areas around the pipeline while it is being built. Restaurants, retail shops, convenience stores, etc. Not to mention the growth in many other areas of the economy that support the production of the pipeline. And then there will be growth in the factories that refine the oil, and the distribution channels of the oil, wherever it is bound.
    What we really need to ask ourselves, what reason would the President have for lobbying against this? What is a valid reason to not build it??? Does he think it's bad for the people of America, or for himself?

    March 8, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Hanksalot1

    They're blasting POTUS for "twisting arms" when all of the GOP gooseteps in unison on every piece of obstructionism imaginable. LOL!

    March 8, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Jason

    They cannot build a pipeline across Canada because THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT said NO. That should tell you something about the safety of this pipeline. Republicans don't see anything but the mighty dollar. Greed is killing this country.

    March 8, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. petemg

    Please people remember what has happened. Remember that Obama is against the Keystone project. Also remember that if and when he gets elected for another term, he may change his mind to gain popularity. I do not care how people vote or feel, but just watch after November.

    March 8, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. James Mason

    The only beneficiary of this pipeline would be investors in Canadian tar sands. No reduction in oil or gas costs due to those being driven by world demand. Less focus on alternatives. Billions of tons of additional CO2 dumped into the atmosphere to extract the oil. More risk to key aquifers in the US.

    Seriously, when was the last time that the GOP worked hard on anything that would REALLY help ordinary Americans? This is good only for the oligarchs – and you can take that to the bank. THEIR bank.

    March 8, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. P

    DC- there has not been a pipline this large in the 48 states. SO whats wrong on taking time to get it right. One state does not want it in their back yard, I guess you do not live in that state. So thats reason enough to slow it down. Why you in such a rush to make oil companies more profit. It is not going to lower prices, the amount it is not large enough to make a dent.

    March 8, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. sim

    The pipeline will flow over the Ogallala Aquifer. This aquifer is an enormous underground river that flows under almost the entire state of Nebraska. You might not think much of Nebraska, but if the aquifer is poisoned, we'll be done. Birds and fish will die, but more importantly, we will die. The energy lobbies spent 42 million to "educate" Congress about the virtues of the pipeline but they left out the dangers–and the dangers are considerable. As it turns out, all this is good for Boehner who not only took energy money, he will get another pocketful on the next round–so I really can't understand what he's complaining about.

    March 8, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Bob

    This is obviously a question of what is best for our nation. There are environmental concerns and there are potential economic benefits. In PA the coal companies made millions, destroyed the environment, destroyed the lives of many miners and we were left with a terrible legacy that we view every day. Happily, the Federal government spent millions to clean up the water, and land, so that people could enjoythe beauty of the region. I support the government considering all aspects of the pipeline and carefully recommended the course of action that they believe will best suit the nation. Do not allow another old coal industry to destroy more of our nation.

    March 8, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Democrats and leftist simply cannot refute Obama's record on energy is ANTI-FOSSIL FUEL. ANYTHING he can do to stop it, slow it down or drive up the price, he has done. Whether he likes it or not, the country today NEEDS it. His pie in the sky dreams of solar powered cars MUST take a back seat to reality. The technology isn't there and will not be there for some time. In the meantime, his actions HURT the USA and HURT Americans.

    March 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  23. JOHN

    I think its a shame the republicans are trying to embarrassed President. Its shows how little the republicans cares about the American people. By putting the environment at risk and creating a national security risk. We all should send an email or call our Representative and tell them to support the President and say no to the pipeline. We only have one earth!

    March 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. ted

    Here are a few interesting facts about the Keystone Pipeline. Some of you must have missed this information....The oil that they want to pipe right down the middle of the U.S. is from very toxic tar... sand. It is loaded with cancer causing agents. (bitumen, cyanide and very toxic forms of ammonia just to name a few) The oil company Transcanada wants to build this pipeline all the way down to Port Authur Texas. (I have seen this "city" with my own eyes, it is one giant oil refinery that runs day and night, at night you can see fire shooting up from stacks from 30 miles away) This "city" is a tax free zone, meaning anything exported from there is not subjected to any kind of U.S. tax. When asked if all the oil being piped to this port would stay in the U.S? Transcanada said "we can not say that". Transcanada has a identical pipeline in Canada that they want to link up to the proposed U.S pipeline. This pipeline is about two year's old and has already had over 10 spills, and people have died as a result. A village near the site of these tar sand pits called Fort Chipewyan has already had 100 people out of 1,200 die of rare forms of cancer. On top of that! Once this dirty oil gets to Texas it will take 3 barrels of clean water to extract 1 barrel of oil!... Oh yes there is more!... the by product is a toxic sludge that will be put into pits in the U.S. Toxins have already leaked into drinking water supply's in Canada! After being built the pipeline will create 20 full time jobs for Americans. Transcanada is asking that the EPA ""overlook" some of the rules that are in place so this pipeline can be built! Oh and do you know where Transcanada has and is planning to buy all of these pipes from?......China!

    March 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Fronc

    The only reason Obama opposed the pipeline is that the developers were supposed to find a new route as to not endanger the aquifer that provides water to the citizens in that area. He's not against the pipeline. If the developers could just do their job and find a new route, then the game is on.

    March 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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