In gesture to new overlords, red state Democrats rush to back Keystone on Senate floor

One by one on Wednesday, the Senate’s red state Democrats supplicated on the floor of the upper chamber in displays of submission to their new Republican overlords.

Reports which indicated that centrist Democrats would launch a last-minute ploy to rescue Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) from the wrath of her state’s voters by finally approving of the Keystone XL Pipeline proved true yesterday. In a floor speech, Landrieu praised the project, said that she “fought for it like a tiger” in the past, and demanded a vote on the project on Thursday.

Landrieu was joined by a variety of red state Democrats who also expressed their support for the pipeline and incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) all backed the construction of the pipeline and urged a speedy vote in the lame duck session.

Calling it the Hoeven-Landrieu Bill, the embattled Louisiana senator insisted that the project had been delayed for far too long. “We believe the bill that we drafted could gain support in the House of Representatives and could potentially receive the signature of the president of the United States which is important and necessary for this bill to become law,” Landrieu later told reporters.

The Republican House is not playing along with the Pelican State senator’s gambit. The lower chamber is expected to advance a nearly identical bill on Thursday that would also approve of the pipeline. That bill’s lead sponsor will be Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Landrieu’s GOP opponent against whom she faces off in a December 6 runoff election.

“The House has passed legislation to expedite the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline eight times,” read a statement released by Cassidy. “The Senate did not consider any of the eight. I will now pass a bill identical to the bill the Senate is said to consider to push this issue forward.”

“On Wednesday, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Cassidy would get a seat on the Senate Energy Committee if he beats Landrieu in the runoff,” The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported, robbing Landrieu of her last, best appeal to her state’s voters.

Just days after Democrats endured serious losses at the hands of the voters, White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest stressed that Keystone was not an area in which the administration would entertain compromise with the GOP. On Wednesday night, he said that administration continued to object to the approval of the pipeline.

“I think it’s fair to say that our dim view of these kinds of proposals has not changed,” Earnest told reporters. He added that Obama’s advisors would likely recommend he veto of any bill that approves the construction of the long-delayed pipeline.

As Hail Mary passes go, this latest is a true longshot. Even if Keystone meets with a presidential veto, yesterday’s display from Senate Democrats served to clarify exactly who the new bosses in town are.