Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — The House of Representatives passed
a bill to approve building the Keystone XL pipeline in defiance
of President Barack Obama, who today challenged supporters’
arguments that the pipeline will help the U.S. economy.
The Republican-led House passed the measure 252-161, with
31 Democrats in support. The bill will be considered in the
Democratic-led Senate Nov. 18, where an aide who spoke on
condition of anonymity said supporters have 59 of 60 votes
needed to pass it.
Obama could still veto a bill if it passes the Senate.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California
Republican, said he thinks the pipeline will ultimately be
“You just had an election where the people are asking
Congress to find common ground,” McCarthy said, noting
bipartisan support for the Keystone bill. “And it provides
jobs. So I’m feeling very positive about it.”
TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone became the first major topic
for Congress’s lame-duck session after Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, facing a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana, proposed a vote
on her bill to bypass the government review and approve the
pipeline. Until now, majority Democrats had blocked a similar
measure to circumvent the administration.
That prompted House Republicans to schedule today’s vote on
identical legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Cassidy,
a Louisiana Republican and Landrieu’s challenger for the last
undecided Senate seat.
One of the Democrats targeted by pipeline supporters,
Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, said through a spokesman that
he’ll vote against the measure. That will make it harder for
Keystone backers to reach the 60-vote threshold.
Before the House vote, Obama offered his most pointed
comments yet on the pipeline, directly challenging Republican
claims the project would create a significant number of jobs and
would lower gasoline prices.
“Understand what this project is: It is providing the
ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land
down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else,” the
president said today during a visit to Yangon, Myanmar. “It
doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”
Keystone will make the U.S. less dependent on oil from
nations that aren’t as close an ally as Canada, Representative
Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, said yesterday during
debate on the measure.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said that
the bill would “lower energy costs and create more jobs.”
In the House, none of the Republicans opposed the bill.
Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, voted
“There continues to be strong bipartisan support for
Keystone XL and we are encouraged by any effort to move this
process forward,” TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said in an
TransCanada, a Calgary-based pipeline company, proposed
Keystone six years ago, in 2008. It has since become a
battleground over jobs, climate change, and energy security.
Obama indicated he thinks its importance is inflated.
“I have to constantly push back against this idea that
somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill
for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices,” he
Environmentalists criticized the House action.
“The vote supported a destructive project with no
redeeming value for anyone other than TransCanada,” Luisa
Abbott Galvao, a climate and energy associate with Friends of
the Earth, an environmental group, said in a statement.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Jim Snyder in Washington at
Kathleen Hunter in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jodi Schneider at
Jon Morgan at