- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 8, 2015

As a key Senate committee cleared legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a prominent supporter of the project said Thursday he believes the chamber could have enough votes to override a presidential veto of the bill.

Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, told his colleagues he believes the bill approving the pipeline could garner 67 votes, the number needed to overcome a veto by the president.

The House is expected to take up the bill Friday, while the full Senate will tackle it next week.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee cleared the bill Thursday by a vote of 13 to 9. All Republicans, along with Mr. Manchin, voted in favor of it, while nine Democrats voted against it.

“We could have a good piece of legislation that we could have 67, 70, 75 votes on — a good product when we’re done,” Mr. Manchin said Thursday as the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources debated the Keystone legislation.

Mr. Manchin specifically praised the decision to allow amendments to be offered on the floor of the Senate next week, saying that process will allow for a more robust debate and ultimately produce a better piece of legislation.

Keystone, which would transport oil sands from Alberta, Canada, through the U.S. heartland to refineries on the Gulf Coast, has been in bureaucratic limbo for the past six years.

The White House has cited several reasons why Mr. Obama has yet to make a decision and why he would veto the legislation, which has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

Chief among those reasons is an outstanding court case in Nebraska that could result in the pipeline’s route through the state being nullified.

Still, federal lawmakers are moving forward and it is a virtual certainty the bill will pass the House and Senate over the next few days.

While Mr. Manchin is confident the bill could overcome a veto in the Senate, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she believes Democrats in her chamber could uphold the veto.

There also is significant opposition in the Senate among Democrats who believe the pipeline would be disastrous for the planet.

“The Keystone pipeline is not going to be forgotten. It is not going to be forgotten by our children and our grandchildren,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, arguing the project will accelerate global warming. “I have a feeling our kids and our grandchildren, 20, 30, 40 years from now, they’re going to be asking us … what were you guys thinking? What were you doing?”

State Department environmental reviews of the project have determined it will have no significant impact on climate change.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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