Senate Passes Plan to Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, speaks during a news conference with Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, right, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, after a cloture vote on the Keystone XL pipeline bill at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans shepherded through a bill to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline Thursday, when they were joined by nine Democrats to achieve a 62-to-36 vote. Newly installed majority leader Mitch McConnell praised the passage as “an important accomplishment for the country,” touting the large number of jobs such a pipeline would create and claiming that it would have “little to no impact on the environment.”

It’s the latter part of that characterization that critics have taken issue with, however. From across the aisle, Senator Barbara Boxer — who is also the top Democrat on the Senate environmental committee — called the bill a “disgrace” and said that Republicans rebuffed the other side’s efforts to “make this a better bill.” (The $8 billion proposed project has been besieged by concerns that it will exacerbate climate change, in part through increased carbon pollution from the Alberta oil sands.)

The Senate measure isn’t likely to get very far, though: Not only must it still be reconciled with a different version passed by the House, but President Obama has promised to veto any legislation about the pipeline. Even with a little Democratic support, the number of Senate votes doesn’t quite rise to the level needed to override a presidential veto.