In their first major voted since last week's election House lawmakers today easily passed a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline which would bring crude oil from Canada to the U.S. The bill will be voted on in the Senate on Tuesday. The vote was 252 in favor and 161 opposed. All of the Republicans in the House supported the bill and 31 Democrats broke party ranks and joined the Republicans. Tennessee's Fifth District Congressman Jim Cooper was one of the Democrats who voted for the bill. Below is the list of how our delegation voted.
Aye (R) Roe, Phil TN 1stOn Tuesday the measure will be taken up in the Senate where it will require 60 votes to cut off debate and allow the bill to be voted upon. The Obama administration has been slow-walking the review process to run out the clock on Keystone even though his own State Department has said it would be safe and would not significantly add to greenhouse gases.
Aye (R) Duncan, John TN 2nd
Aye (R) Fleischmann, Chuck TN 3rd
Aye (R) DesJarlais, Scott TN 4th
Aye (D) Cooper, Jim TN 5th
Aye (R) Black, Diane TN 6th
Aye (R) Blackburn, Marsha TN 7th
Aye (R) Fincher, Stephen TN 8th
No (D) Cohen, Steve TN 9th
Construction would add tens of thousand of new high-paying jobs. Many Democrat voters, such as labor union members, are supportive of building the pipeline although activist environmentalist adamantly oppose the pipeline. If the pipeline is not build to bring the crude from Canada to the refineries of the gulf coast, Canada will most likely build a pipeline to the Pacific coast where it will be shipped to China to be refined. As an alternative, the crude oil may be transported by rail and truck to the gulf which is potentially more hazardous to the environment and a more costly way to transport it.
In the Senate, Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu who is in a tough runoff campaign that will be decided on December 6th, is joining Republicans in pushing for approval. Oil refineries are important to the Louisiana gulf coast economy. At least ten other Democrats are ready to join Republicans in voting for passage and it looks like the bill will get the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. For several years Senate majority leader Harry Ried has refused to let the bill come to a vote. Even though the Senate has not yet changed hands and the new Republican majority have not taken office the election is already having an impact. If Republicans cannot get the 60 votes to pass the bill in this lame duck session however, they will pass it after the new Congress takes office in January.
President Obama has hinted that if the bill is passed he may veto it. The new Senate would need 67 votes to override and most pundits do not think the Senate can do it. Even if the Senate cannot override a veto of this bill, Obama's veto of the popular bill will result in a further weakening of his power and prestige he will be viewed as an obstructionist who will not work with Congress. If he uses the veto too frequently, then it becomes easier for Congress to override a veto.
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