House Republicans celebrated the passage of the Keystone XL pipeline project on Friday, charging that President Barack Obama has run out of excuses for blocking it after a Nebraska court threw out a challenge to the $8 billion project.
"The American people are sick and tired of the excuses they see coming out of Washington," said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn. "They don’t want excuses; they want solutions to the challenges we face as a nation."
Blackburn called on the Senate to approve the bill in the coming weeks — forcing Obama to make good on a veto threat made on Tuesday.
"We should put pressure on him to live up to his threat to veto this common-sense legislation now that his excuses have finally run out," she said.
House Speaker John Boehner said Obama's rejection would "put his own political interests ahead of the needs and priorities of the American people."
"There is no excuse, scientific or otherwise, for the president to continue blocking the pipeline," he added. "An overwhelming majority of Americans support this job-creating energy project — and President Obama ought to respect their will and stop standing in the way."
Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus said Obama needed to "green-light" the project immediately — "and Hillary Clinton should finally tell voters where she stands on the pipeline."
Clinton, who served as secretary of state under Obama, is expected to soon announce whether she will seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The House approved the measure in a 266-153 vote. Twenty-eight Democrats joined with all 238 Republicans to support the legislation — setting up a major showdown with Obama over the nation's energy agenda.
The bill was among the first pieces of legislation considered by the Republican-controlled Congress. The vote was the 10th the House has taken on Keystone since July 2011.
Proposed by TransCanada Corp. in 2008, the pipeline would carry more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas refineries along a proposed 1,179-mile route through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Senate has a test vote on Monday with enough support to pass an identical bill, but not enough votes to overcome a presidential veto. The House vote on Friday fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn a veto as well.
Hours before the House vote, Nebraska's highest court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the pipeline's route, an obstacle the White House said needed to be removed before making its decision on the project.
The administration's veto threat on Tuesday was based in part on the Nebraska case. In its ruling, the court let stand a 2012 state law that allows the governor to empower TransCanada to force eastern Nebraska landowners to sell their property for the project.
If the decision had gone the other way, the State Department, which is in charge of evaluating the pipeline's environmental risks, might have had do additional analysis.
"Today's ruling provides the perfect opportunity for the president to change his unproductive posture on this jobs project and reverse his veto threat," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the decision. "The president now has every reason to sign it."
The White House, meanwhile, said the ruling did not change its "posture and position" on the Keystone legislation.
"Regardless of the Nebraska ruling today, the House bill still conflicts with longstanding executive-branch procedures regarding the authority of the president and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests, and if presented to the president, he will veto the bill," Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said.
The White House said on Tuesday that Obama would veto the bill if it passed Congress because it "would authorize the project despite uncertainty due to ongoing litigation in Nebraska."
Republicans have long contended that Keystone would create 42,000 jobs and add $3 billion to the nation's GDP. Environmentalists say the project is detrimental to efforts to combat climate change.
With six years of delays — and the renewed veto threat — Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole said Obama "has decided to cater to environmental extremists rather than the majority of Americans."
House Budget Chairman Tom Price of Georgia said Obama would be demonstrating "true leadership" in approving Keystone.
Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, said Obama "will finally be held directly accountable for his decision to support greater energy independence and job creation or appease radical liberal activists."
"I sincerely hope the White House will finally put the American people first and do the work they sent us here to do."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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