Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, signaled for the first time Tuesday that he is "open" to the Senate voting on legislation that would require the approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline.
"I'm open to anything that will move energy efficiency," Reid told reporters when asked if he would agree to schedule the vote as an amendment to a bipartisan energy efficiency bill expected to be taken up later this week.
Republican senators have balked at taking up that energy efficiency measure unless they also get a vote on Keystone, which has long been a top priority for their party.
If Reid agrees, it would be a significant shift for the Democratic leader who until now has refused to schedule a binding vote on the issue.
Reid has been juggling the competing interests of the White House, which is under pressure from environmentalists to reject the project and red state Democrats facing re-election, like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who support the pipeline.
"That's a positive development," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking GOP senator, in reaction to Reid’s comments. "I'm sure he's getting a lot of pressure from his members."
But Thune doubted Democrats would provide enough support for the measure to pass, which would likely require 60 votes.
"I don't think anybody over there is really for this." Thune said. "In the end, I suspect they'll do everything they can to prevent it from getting the necessary votes to actually pass but try and give some of their members a cover vote."