The Keystone XL pipeline was the first issue taken up by Congress as it returned from a seven-week recess on Wednesday, and Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana stopped just short of chanting "Drill baby drill!" from the floor.
Landrieu faces a December 6 runoff against the GOP's Rep. Bill Cassidy, who introduced a similar pipeline bill in the House. In an attempt to appeal to the state's more conservative majority, Landrieu has made a clear break from the majority of her party, including President Barack Obama.
"I've stood against my leadership when I've had to, and this is one of those times," Landrieu said from the floor, according to USA Today
The senator from Louisiana is joined by other Democrats with seats in states that are heavily in favor of the pipeline, the construction and operation of which could bring jobs, and help the country become more energy independent. That includes Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
"It is time for America to become energy independent and that is impossible without the Keystone pipeline and other pipelines like it," said Landrieu, Reuters reported
In total, 45 Republicans and 11 Democrats are co-sponsoring the bill, bringing the potential vote to at least 56. Landrieu will need four additional Democrats to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
Obama hasn't stated publicly what he'll do if the Keystone measures pass both chambers of Congress. Some expect he'll sign it, others suspect he'll veto it.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has stated that if the lame-duck session does not pass the bill now, the Republican majorities in both chambers will pass it after the newly elected candidates are sworn in this January.
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