President Barack Obama might be open to using the Keystone pipeline as leverage with Republicans if they cooperate on other aspects of his long-stalled domestic agenda, such as investing in infrastructure, closing tax loopholes or reducing carbon emissions.
“Whatever the president decides, I expect it will be driven by the bottom line on carbon pollution, not by symbolism,” one former administration official told Reuters.
Obama wants to make headway on slowing climate change during his last two years in office, but he has made it clear that new rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants and a global agreement on climate change are far more meaningful in the big picture than the fate of the pipeline.
Sources close to the White House say Obama believes that both pipeline opponents and proponents have exaggerated the significance of their claims about the pipeline, turning it into a political symbol.
Forget about the fight in Washington—the pipeline just doesn’t make economic sense anymore.
When viewed as a political grudge match, the ongoing battle over the Keystone XL pipeline remains one of the hottest fights in Washington. Proof of that can be seen by looking at yesterday’s vote in the Senate on the project, which failed to get the 60 votes needed for filibuster-proof passage.
But when considered solely on its economic merits, Keystone XL may end up being the pipeline equivalent of a jilted bride left waiting at the altar.
To be certain, that’s not what environmental activists want to hear. They have made Keystone XL the poster child of their climate-change efforts. Meanwhile, Republicans are seething over the years-long delays on the project and are eager to score political points against President Obama and the Democrats by forcing them to approve the federal permits needed for the pipeline. And Republicans are already promising another vote on the project in January when they will have a majority in the Senate.
The defeat deals a blow to Landrieu’s campaign ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, whom polls show running comfortably ahead. Winning on Keystone would have helped her demonstrate her clout on the Hill as a champion of her state’s influential oil and gas industry.
Cassidy’s campaign quickly knocked Landrieu, saying in a statement that her “supposed ‘clout’” never actually existed.
For her part, Landrieu didn’t point the finger at her fellow Democrats or the White House for the bill’s failure. “There’s no blame,” Landrieu told reporters. “There’s only joy in the fight.”
A veto-proof majority in the Senate next year isn’t impossible. On Tuesday, 14 Democrats sided with Republicans on Keystone. While some of those Democrats won’t be returning to the new Senate, the vote suggests a level of support in the party that must grab the attention of the White House.
A growing number of Democrats may be beginning to feel, privately at least, that the pipeline might be a battle that is becoming unsustainable.
“They need to get this issue behind us once and for all,” said Jim Manley, a longtime former communications aide to Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid and Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Significantly, the White House has not yet specifically threatened to veto a bill seeking to approve Keystone.
But it has left no doubt of Obama’s distaste for the project.
“It certainly is a piece of legislation that the president doesn’t support,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday.
The failure of the bill to pass the Senate gives Republicans their marching orders for January 5, 2015, when they take over the Senate: Pass Keystone XL.
Then double dog dare Democratic President Barack Obama to veto Keystone. He is a cowardly bully and Republicans should treat him like Vlad Putin treats him: with utter disregard. Pass it and make him veto.
The votes are there. If the Democrats who voted for it in November — Joe Manchin and the like — vote for it in January, the bill will pass 63-37 as four new Republican senators replace anti-Keystone Democrats: Shelley Moore Capito succeeds Jay Rockefeller, Joni Ernst succeeds Tom Harkin, Cory Gardner succeeds Mark Udall, and Mike Rounds succeeds Tim Johnson.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) will headline a fundraising event in Washington next month that will benefit Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) ahead of his runoff election against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
A source with knowledge of the event confirmed the Bush fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Bush will speak at the NRSC headquarters for the Dec. 1 event, with some proceeds going to Cassidy.
On Nov. 4, in the first round of Louisiana’s Senate election, Landrieu took 43 percent in a field where Republicans split the vote.
Cassidy came in at 42 percent, and Tea Partyer Rob Maness won 14 percent. Louisiana’s election rules require a runoff, to be held on Dec. 6, between the top two vote-getters if no candidate tops 50 percent of the vote.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) ends his career as Senate Majority Leader as he began it. Which is to say, by toadying to the rather disassociated, yet hardcore partisan, establishment figures that run the Democratic party these days.
But let’s be honest. Mary Landrieu’s runoff election campaign wasn’t doing all that spiffy to begin with. The polling has been all Republican-leaning, sure: it’s also exceedingly gruesome for Landrieu, and this has been a bad cycle for claiming that the polls are biased against Democrats. Besides, if Sen. Landrieu had really thought that she was ahead she wouldn’t have grimly gone along with this Keystone stunt. I’ll leave the Senator with this thought:
You know what would be a really entertaining revenge, Mary Landrieu? Resigning from the Senate. Tonight.
— Moe Lane (@moelane) November 18, 2014