A bipartisan group of senators are scrambling to develop a strategy that would move legislation supporting the Keystone XL pipeline past any veto threat by President Barack Obama, Politico reports
The bill's two key sponsors, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat and his GOP counterpart, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, who has seen the boon to oil production firsthand, have defined three main paths forward, Politico noted, the most defined being a straight vote override.
Currently, counts show about 63 senators supporting the bill, just below the 67 needed for an override, Politico said, noting a second option would be creating a series of amendments designed to "sweeten the pot" for the president's initiatives and encouraging him to come aboard.
Finding the four extra votes, however, appears to be extra tough.
"It’s not easy,” Hoeven told Politico of pushing the bill through. “We may be able to override. I’m just not sure.”
The third option would be to tie Keystone to appropriations legislation and stepping up pressure on Obama to make some kind of deal, Politico said.
Thus far, the White House has issued forceful opposition to the bill, H.R. 3, The Huffington Post noted
In a statement Wednesday, the White House said Keystone XL legislation "seeks to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines serve the national interest."
It warned Congress's efforts to force legislation through "would cut short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest."
The veto threat marks what is seen as the first big confrontation between the president and the new Congress, noted The Christian Science Monitor
in a commentary post. "The benefits of allowing the Keystone XL project to go forward far outweigh the costs that opponents have continued to cite over the years," the CSM noted in a column by Doug Mataconis.
Mataconis added of the opportunities the would follow passing such a law: "While the studies disagree on the exact numbers, there’s no question that the pipeline would be a fantastic source of real economic stimulus for the states it runs through and for the nation as a whole. It could also potentially help promote additional oil shale exploration in the Upper Far West, something that has already brought astounding economic stimulus to North Dakota, which happens to have the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the nation.
Mataconis continued: "Adding all of this together, the decision to approve the pipeline seems like a no-brainer. Instead, the Obama administration continues to dither and pander to the Democratic base on this issue."
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