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How Did Washington State Senators Vote in Narrow Defeat of Keystone XL Pipeline?

By    |   Wednesday, 14 October 2015 08:09 PM

The two U.S. Senators from the state of Washington — both Democrats who cited environmental concerns — were on the winning side in the March 4, 2015 vote in which opponents of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline sustained President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill that would have arranged for that pipeline to be built.

The pipeline would run from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Republicans supported building the pipeline to create jobs while Obama raised concerns about Keystone XL’s potential effects on climate change and questioned how much of an effect it would have on employment.

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The Senate voted 62-36 on Jan. 29, 2015, to pass a bill seeking to require construction of the 840-mile pipeline, which Obama had vowed to veto so long as federal environmental reviews continued, reported The Washington Post.

Of the Senate’s 54 Republicans, 53 voted in favor of the bill — along with nine Democrats — while Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, did not vote. Thirty-two Democrats and two independents voted against the bill; Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid also did not vote.

Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell were among those who voted to sustain the veto. The votes by Murray and Cantwell fell along party lines in the debate over the TransCanada Corp. pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels daily.

Noting that she was a “ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,” Cantwell released a statement on her Jan. 29, 2015, vote.

“I still hope that the president of the United States will veto this legislation because I want him to be able to negotiate the terms and agreements by which this pipeline is going to be built. I want him to protect the American economy, I want him to protect American farmers, and I want him to protect the American environment,” Cantwell said.

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Cantwell’s said she remained concerned about “holes” in the proposed legislation and “the fact that the number of crude oil spills has been growing since 2009.” She added, “I hope Congress will take a deep breath and get these issues, as they relate to safety and security, outlined and into law.”

Murray told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in November 2014 the proposed pipeline’s potential impacts on climate change needed to be fully known before a decision was made on whether to approve or reject it. She said a rush by Congress to approve the pipeline’s construction would put “political expediency ahead of scientific facts,” the Seattle PI reported.

The House of Representatives voted 270-152 on Feb. 11, 2015 to approve the bill, which Obama vetoed Feb. 24, 2015, according to The Washington Post.

All 54 Senate Republicans were among the 62 Senators who voted March 4 in favor of the unsuccessful attempt to overturn Obama’s veto. Eight Democratic senators voted in favor of the override and 37 Senate Democrats — including Murray and Cantwell — voted against it while one Democrat – Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who had voted in favor of the bill on Jan. 29 — did not vote.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, who introduced the bill, said after the failed override attempt that pipeline supporters would try to attach Keystone pipeline approval to another bill this year, Reuters reported.

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Washington State's two Democratic U.S. Senators cited environmental concerns of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline when they voted to sustain President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill that would have arranged for the Keystone XL pipeline to be built.
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Wednesday, 14 October 2015 08:09 PM
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