Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline, falls short of the threshold needed to override veto

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

27 PHOTOS
Keystone XL pipeline
See Gallery
Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline, falls short of the threshold needed to override veto
Environmental activists protest against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in front of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (SCIS) where former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to speak at Syracuse Universitys S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications presentation of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Rapid City resident Hazel Bonner, center, looks on during the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission's public hearing at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D., Monday, July 6, 2015. Bonner said in the hearing that she opposes the Keystone XL oil pipeline for herself, her children and her grandchildren. (AP Photo/James Nord)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a community forum on healthcare, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at Moulton Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton broke her longstanding silence over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, telling voters at a campaign stop in Iowa on Tuesday that she opposes the project assailed by environmentalists. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
WATERTOWN, SD- MAY 08: Shawnee Rae (age 8) was with a group of Native American activists from the Sisseton-Wahpeton tribe who came to Watertown to line the Obama motorcade route to protest the Keystone XL pipeline project. By visiting South Dakota, President Obama has now visited all 50 states as president. The town of Watertown was very energized and enthusiastic about his visit. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House press secretary Josh Earnest pauses during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Earnest discussed funding of the Department of Homeland Security, Keystone XL Pipeline, and immigration reform, and other topics. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act is seen after being signed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and which allows expansion of the pipeline to carry oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries in the U.S., at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. Though passage of the long-stalled legislation was a Republican campaign promise during the midterm elections last year, President Barack Obama has promised to veto the act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Map shows the proposed Keystone pipeline route; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, stand together on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, during a ceremony before the signing of the bill authorizing expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline. Though both houses of Congress are now controlled by Republicans, Boehner and McConnell are at a standstill over provisions attached to a Homeland Security spending bill aimed at blocking President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13: Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, signs the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act during a ceremony in the Capitol's Rayburn Room, as from left, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., look on, February 13, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline hold signs during a demonstration across the street where U.S. President Barack Obama will attend an event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. U.S. Secretary John Kerry said Jan. 31 that the State Department will get results of a Keystone XL review in the next few days and that at some point in the future, he will make a recommendation on whether to approve the border-crossing pipeline. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline hold signs during a demonstration across the street where U.S. President Barack Obama will attend an event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. U.S. Secretary John Kerry said Jan. 31 that the State Department will get results of a Keystone XL review in the next few days and that at some point in the future, he will make a recommendation on whether to approve the border-crossing pipeline. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks about the Keystone XL pipeline during a news conference on January 29, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The US Senate passed a cloture vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline and is scheduled for full vote later today. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse attends a demonstration against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks about the Keystone XL pipeline during a news conference on January 29, 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The US Senate passed a cloture vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline and is scheduled for full vote later today. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, from left, Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Senator Edward 'Ed' Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, hold a news conference on Keystone XL pipeline amendments at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Senate Democratic leaders will push hard for full Senate vote on an amendment to Keystone XL pipeline legislation that puts all senators on record on their views about whether carbon emissions spark climate change, said Schumer. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators hold a rally against the Keystone XL pipeline outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. The Keystone XL pipeline has become a proxy for debates about global warming, jobs and energy security. Republicans who now control both houses of Congress have vowed to make approval of the pipeline one of their first pieces of legislation this year, a move the Obama administration opposes. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A copy of S.1, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, is arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. The U.S. Senate on Monday, Jan. 12, advanced legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline with a procedural vote that sets up what may become one of the most extensive discussions of energy policy in the chamber in years. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, speaks during a news conference with Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, left, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, after a cloture vote on the Keystone XL pipeline bill at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. U.S. Senate Republicans are poised to push through a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, achieving a long sought policy objective that probably will be thwarted by a veto from President Barack Obama. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, center, smiles as she speaks about Keystone XL, accompanied by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., left, sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. smiles as he returns to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, after passing a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The 62-36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, which championed the legislation despite a presidential veto threat. The bill authorizes construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil primarily from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, takes the elevator after leaving the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, following the Keystone XL pipeline vote. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., turns to leave at the end of a news conference about Keystone XL, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Republican-controlled Senate moved Thursday toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many expected battles with the White House over energy and the environment. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., sponsor of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, right, joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, after winning a critical procedural vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill. The Republican-controlled Senate moved toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, getting enough votes to overcome a filibuster, 62-35, but it remains five votes short of a veto-proof majority. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., takes the elevator after leaving the Senate chamber following the Keystone XL pipeline vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides from the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, after the Republican-controlled House passed legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill's passage now sets the stage for a showdown in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides from the House floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, after the Republican-controlled House passed legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill's passage now sets the stage for a showdown in the Senate. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment.

The 62-36 vote advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, and marked the first time the Senate passed a bill authorizing the pipeline, despite numerous attempts to force President Barack Obama's hand on the issue. Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans to back the measure.

Still the vote was short of the threshold needed to override a veto, and the legislation still must be reconciled with the version the House passed.

This bill "is an important accomplishment for the country," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "We are hoping the president upon reflection will agree to sign on to a bill that the State Department said could create up to 42,000 jobs and the State Department said creates little to no impact on the environment."

Democrats framed the bill as gift to a foreign oil company that would have little benefit for the American people, because much of the oil would be exported. They tried and failed to get amendments on the bill to construct the pipeline with U.S. steel, ban exports of the oil and the products refined from it, and protect water resources.

The Senate agreed to add an energy efficiency measure, and went on the record saying climate change was not a hoax and the oil sands should be subject to a tax that helps pay for oil spill cleanups. Oil sands are currently exempt.

"This bill is a disgrace," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the top Democrat on the Senate environment committee. "We tried on our side to make this a better bill and they turned us away."

First proposed in 2008, the $8 billion pipeline project has been beset by delays in Nebraska over its route and at the White House, where the president has resisted prior efforts by Congress to force him to make a decision. In 2012, Obama rejected the project after Congress attached a measure to a payroll tax cut extension that gave him a deadline to make a decision. The pipeline's developer, TransCanada Corp., then reapplied.

Obama has said he will not be forced to make a decision on the pipeline, which requires presidential approval because it crosses an international border, until the review process concludes. Federal agencies' comments on whether the project is in the national interest are due Monday.

Environmental groups have called on Obama to reject the project outright, saying it would make it easier to tap a dirty source of energy that would exacerbate global warming. The State Department's analysis, assuming higher oil prices, found that shipping it by pipelines to rail or tankers would be worse for the planet.

Supporters say the pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs during construction and boost energy security by importing oil from a friendly neighbor.

Also on AOL.com:
Obama tells Congress: Show me the money
Graham weighs a presidential bid
Romney donors go for Bush

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners