Democrats Block Keystone XL Pipeline Again

On Tuesday, Democrats blocked legislation introduced by Senator John Hoeven in the Senate and Rep. Bill Cassidy in the House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Senate Democrats were on the verge of passing serious, common-sense, bipartisan policy for the first time in recent memory. At the last moment, they chose to deny the country an opportunity for energy security and economic growth. The American people rejected this brand of politics on November 4th. Republicans will end it starting on January 6th. They will rip the Democrats’ red tape off the U.S.-Canada border, so Americans can finally build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Republicans have asked for the full Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline for years. Majority Leader Harry Reid finally allowed it on Tuesday – but only when it had become clear that Senator Mary Landrieu needed a boost.

Democrats granted Senator Landrieu’s unanimous consent request to hold the vote without objection. This was a reversal from June 24, when Senator Barbara Boxer objected to a similar request made by Senator Hoeven. Senator Landrieu nodded to the political nature of the move when she reminded other Democrats in a Senate floor speech last week that she would do everything in her power, both “here and at home on the campaign trail,” to move the pipeline forward because “I am still in a runoff, as you know.”

In the end, Senator Landrieu was unable to secure enough votes from her own party to pass the legislation. She will return to the campaign trail to tout her efforts as proof that she fought for the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans have been waging real fights for the pipeline for years, under the leadership of members like Senator Hoeven in the Senate and Rep. Cassidy in the House. It was the Hoeven-Cassidy bill that Senator Landrieu tried to co-opt, and that her fellow Democrats blocked.

Forty-one Democrats voted against the legislation, enough to kill it for the remainder of the 113th Congress. Every Republican voted in favor. Most Republicans have supported legislation to expedite the pipeline’s permit review since at least March 31, 2011, when Senator David Vitter introduced S. 706, the 3-D, Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act.