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A Veto Proof Majority In Favor Of Keystone XL?

Keystone XL Map

Politico notes that, with the GOP’s victories last night and the Democrats who are on record supporting it, there is now a veto proof majority in Congress in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that the Obama Administration has spent the last five years delaying time after time:

Republicans will command a filibuster-proof Senate majority in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline after Tuesday’s election victories — and they could be within striking distance of assembling a veto-proof bloc for the project, increasing their leverage over President Barack Obama.

The GOP says Keystone will be the subject of one of the first votes in the newly GOP-controlled Senate, when Republicans will be able to join forces with several Democrats who have already publicly backed the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline.

“I think first order of business is to pass it out of House, Senate, and then finally force the president to make a decision on it,” a GOP aide said Tuesday night, adding that “the contrast will be crystal clear” if Obama rejects a pipeline that counts support from more than 6 in 10 Americans in public polls.

“Only then do I think we would rework strategy to secure veto-proof,” the Republican aide said.

Here’s how the math would work: Before Tuesday’s elections, pipeline advocates could count on a solid 57 votes in the Senate, including a dozen Democrats who have previously co-sponsored or expressed support for binding pro-Keystone legislation. Tuesday’s victories by Republican Senate candidates Cory Gardner in Colorado, Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, Mike Rounds in South Dakota and Joni Ernst in Iowa bring that total to 61.

And if Republicans are feeling ambitious, they could try to pull in four Democrats who previously supported a nonbinding resolution on Keystone during the 2013 budget debate: Chris Coons and Tom Carper of Delaware, Bill Nelson of Florida and Michael Bennet of Colorado. That gets them to 65.

Going beyond that, in hopes of getting a veto-proof 67, would depend on how willing Republican leaders are to add sweeteners to a pipeline bill — and avoid divisive riders on issues like offshore drilling.

But the GOP is banking on not needing to worry about a veto. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted Tuesday that a GOP-controlled Senate will send a Keystone bill to President Barack Obama as its second order of business, “and I actually think the president will sign the bill.”

Republicans would need to proceed carefully on a measure like this because, even after yesterday’s big losses, many Democrats are going to be reluctant to cross the President when it comes to something as significant as overriding a veto on a high profile legislative agenda item. Nonetheless, the project itself has polled well across the board nationwide and it could be the case that Democrats would prefer to get the matter off the table before the 2016 elections by coming up with some kind of compromise that would allow them to placate environmental and other interests opposed to the project. Given that, while some pundits have believed that it would take a new President for this project to proceed forward, assuming that it ever did, the new math in both chambers of Congress suggest strongly that this is an area where the new math will allow Republicans to cross off their agenda list something that has been a prominent Republican talking point since before the President took office. Perhaps, in the end, the President will be the one to realize that making a deal here is better for him and his party than fighting a veto battle that he very well could lose, a development that would further weaken a Presidency that is already on its last legs after last night.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    This has got to be most blown-out-of-all-proportion issue in history.
    The fossil fuel industry and it’s shills will get their way…they’ll build the pipeline…it’ll create 6 jobs…and ship a bunch of Canadian oil overseas.
    Then in 15 years the environmentalists will be proven right…it’ll rupture and spew oil all over the place. And a bunch of Republicanists in Nebraska, who got duped into voting against their own interests, will suffer the consequences.
    Nothing new under the sun here.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 10

  2. reid says:

    @C. Clavin: …and the Nebraskan will still vote for the R on the next ballot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: The Canadians and the oil companies were in planning for an “Energy East” pipeline from Alberta linking up to their East Coast. I imagine they’ll drop it and focus on lobbying the US Congress for XL. Cheaper for the oil companies, and they don’t care whose environment they threaten. The whole issue is moot if the Saudis keep the price of oil low enough long enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. KM says:

    You know what? If I were a Dem, I agree to this on the provision there was a clause in the legislation that absolutely no federal money goes to the states if there are negative consequences due to this nor do they have any legal standing to sue anyone but the oil company in question and the authors of the bill. You want it? Great, but you can’t come crying later when you get crude all over your nice cornfield. Sign it, seal it and wait for the “OMG I never thought it would happen to ME!” crowd to wake up to a mess they have to pay for themselves.

    Let them have their cake and find out how stale the baker made it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @reid:
    As I said…dupes voting against their best interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    With oil at $77 bbl the Keystone pipeline is irrelevant. A friend of mine who is an oil consultant said the oil companies were already scaling their projects way back. They need $90 – 95 to get a loan fro development. .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @reid:
    Nebraska is another one of the Red State Welfare Queens…they’re takers…receiving 10% more in Federal money than they send to DC.
    If you’re so smart why can’t you be self-sufficient? I thought that was what Republicans were all about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  8. @KM:

    If I were a Dem, I agree to this on the provision there was a clause in the legislation that absolutely no federal money goes to the states if there are negative consequences due to this nor do they have any legal standing to sue anyone but the oil company in question and the authors of the bill.

    I’d love a clause like that, but unfortunately it would be unconstitutional as the current congress generally isn’t allowed to place limitations on what future congresses choose to enact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    They will eventually get that price. However, if you get approval now, it may be cheaper to build at $&% dollars a barrel and then operate at $100 a barrel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. MikeSJ says:

    I haven’t heard (or missed) any rational explanation why this is not a good idea – maybe those with doubts about this could actually stand up and state this will in reality create a very small number of jobs, and in order to move Canadian oil overseas will risk vital water resources the U.S. needs.

    Maybe try a simple honest straightforward response to this ridiculous Republican stage show.

    Would it be that hard? Really? How about “We need to protect America more than we need to help oil men in Alberta!”

    Honestly their are many many people who think this will employ zillions of people for ever, dramatically lower energy costs and the Democrats oppose it because Jane Fonda and Alinsky and maybe Kenya.

    The Democratic party allows the Republicans to frame the message and if they respond at all they do it on the Republican terrain.

    It’s just sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MikeSJ: I haven’t heard (or missed) any rational explanation why this is not a good idea – maybe those with doubts about this could actually stand up and state this will in reality create a very small number of jobs, and in order to move Canadian oil overseas will risk vital water resources the U.S. needs.

    Building the pipeline would be a “shovel-ready” project, and would be as permanent as a lot of the projects funded by the “Stimulus” (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). It would also supply crude to American refineries, who also employ Americans, and be shipped out of American ports, run by Americans.

    Would it help if I pointed out how many unions would benefit by the pipeline? Construction workers, refinery workers, longshoremen…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  12. stonetools says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Here ya go:

    The Top-10 Myths Vs. Facts About Keystone XL

    from Wildlife Promise

    MYTH #1: “Keystone XL project will create 20,000 jobs–7,500 of which will be in Nebraska”

    FACT: TransCanada’s job claims are complete fabrications. According to the Cornell University Global Labor Institute, “The company’s claim that KXL will create 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is not substantiated” and “KXL will not be a major source of US jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work.” In fact, the State Department’s own study suggests that far fewer jobs will be created and most of them will be non-local and temporary.

    RTWT.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    With oil at $77 bbl the Keystone pipeline is irrelevant.

    THIS !!!

    What a bunch of rubes!!! Canadian tar sands that require VERY expensive processing, pushed though a transamerican pipeline that will cost BILLIONS to make…

    So that they can then process it, and sell it nearly all of it overseas, benefiting the average American: NOTHING !!!

    That’s YOUR Republican Party, folks: They’re willing to fight valiantly for last decade’s issues, without hesitation or forethought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  14. reid says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Who cares if it’s right or wrong; as long as it gets people angry at the Democrats, it’s priceless!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Matt says:

    Screw the landowners and their property rights. Don’t they know a multibillion dollar corporation is their superior and the landowners should be happy to give their land away so this mighty great pipeline can be built.

    I’m against it because I’m against imminent domain.. Taking land from private citizens to enrich the already rich is wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    @superdestroyer: @Liberal Capitalist: The tar sands were expensive to begin with and at this point as they say in the oil industry has mined all the “sweet spots” so it’s only going to become more expensive. The industry exploiting the Bakken Shale oil has the same problem, it was the “sweet spots” first and everything now is going to cost more to develop and the individual wells will produce less. It’s called the Red Queen paradox: I have to keep running faster and faster just to stay in the same place. Major drilling in the Arctic is never going to happen – once again too expensive.
    The great North American oil boom was always a short lived myth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. MikeSJ says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Maybe one day the Democrats will get someone on TV and actually tell the truth about this rather than take an endless beating over it.

    If you read any of the conservative blogs this pipeline is next to the Holy Grail in all the wonderful things it will do for America.

    Just Sayin’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. jib says:

    @MikeSJ: The main argument against it is big picture environmental. The goal is to keep as much of the oil as possible in the ground. This argument is not hidden, it is being made repeatedly and, at least in the media I consume, loudly. If you are not hearing it, maybe expand your reading list?

    As RB points out, the price needed to make oil sands and tight oil profitable is around $95. But it is not that simple. There is marginal cost and capital cost so the current production will continue (with depletion) below $95 but no new production will be brought online.

    If there is no pipeline and the oil gets pumped, we will ship the oil by rail, which creates it own jobs but has a higher risk of environmental damage. However, rail is more expensive to ship which raises the break even price for the oil which increase the chance that the oil will stay in the ground.

    That is really the argument, make it as expensive as possible to get the production out in order to keep as much of the oil as possible in the ground. It is not just about Alberta. The Bakken in North Dakota would also plug into this pipeline as would other tight sand plays in the upper plains.

    Personally, I dont think it makes much difference one way or another. If the economics work, the oil is coming out and shipping costs are just not big enough to make a difference. Both sides are exaggerating the importance of XL. There are other, less high profile pipeline alternatives but it made a good issue for repubs for this last election cycle. Its small beer in the national economy but given what little repubs are going to get done the next 2 years, it just be the right size project for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. MikeSJ says:

    Matt says:
    …I’m against it because I’m against imminent domain.. Taking land from private citizens to enrich the already rich is wrong.

    It would be helpful if the people who will get screwed by this would stop voting for the politicians who are trying to make this happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Matt says:
    …I’m against it because I’m against imminent domain.. Taking land from private citizens to enrich the already rich is wrong.

    It would be helpful if the people who will get screwed by this would stop voting for the politicians who are trying to make this happen.

    First up, it’s “Eminent domain.” Sorry, Matt, but it’s kind of important.

    Second, the last big fight over eminent domain was Kelo v. New London, where the main opposition was from conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  21. stonetools says:

    @jib:

    This argument is not hidden, it is being made repeatedly and, at least in the media I consume, loudly. If you are not hearing it, maybe expand your reading list?

    And therein lies the problem. In your media, this argument is openly made. In the media consumed by the typical conservative, they either don’t hesar the argument or at all ofr hear it dismissed as socialist tree hugger nonsense.
    Check out one of Doug’s favorite news sources, Unitedliberty.org. Here is their feed on on pipeline. Excerpt:

    However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country. The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.

    No where in the feed is there even a mention of “pipeline accident”. Those things just aren’t concievable in Libertarianworld.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: there are pipelines all over the country, this is just obama shilling for “so called environmentalists” who’s goal is ….what- to keep it on rail cars that could derail?
    the only saving grace for this now is that oil is dropping and if it stays low there’ll be no need for it economically.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0