Senate falls four votes short of overturning Obama's Keystone pipeline rejection

Don’t be discouraged. Sixty votes was always unlikely given that Reid and the caucus are naturally loath to kneecap O on a hot-button energy issue in an election year. The final tally was darned close, though, at 56, which tells you all you need to know about how eager centrist Dems are to be on the GOP’s side of this with gas prices rising.

The Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-sponsored measure Thursday that would have bypassed the Obama administration’s current objections to the Keystone XL pipeline and allowed construction on the controversial project to move forward immediately…

Obama personally lobbied wavering Democrats to block passage of the amendment.

“He made some calls,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the vote. “The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose (exact) route has yet to be proposed.”…

Democratic opposition to the Republican measure was complicated by reports last week that former President Bill Clinton came out in favor of building the pipeline.

The 11 Democratic defectors: Baucus, Begich, Casey, Conrad, Hagan, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Pryor, Tester, and Webb. Four of those are up for reelection this year and two others are retiring and free to vote their consciences. I’m surprised Ben Nelson, another retiree and frequent aisle-crosser, didn’t join them. He was probably cowed by local objections in Nebraska to the pipeline’s threat to the Sandhills, but according to CNN, this bill explicitly barred any work from beginning in Nebraska immediately. I’ll bet it was a close call for him; sounds like Mark Warner was a close call on voting no too. I never would have guessed before the vote that Zeus might be forced to pick up the phone on Mount Olympus in order to avert a crushing betrayal by his own party, but evidently he was in more trouble here than expected.

Anyway. The pipeline will be approved and eventually built; the only question is whether today’s vote will pressure O into approving it before the election or if he’s set on making them wait so that he doesn’t have to be hassled by environmentalists during the campaign. The strategy, as usual, is procrastination with an eye to election day. So much for “Bold Action.” Exit quotation from Politico: “The company is in its fourth year of the permitting process for the pipeline, a timeline Pourbaix said is becoming increasingly common.”

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