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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bipartisan Senate Vote Advances Keystone XL Pipeline; Final Passage Expected

Update 3:15 PM CST: By a 62-to-36 vote, Republicans and nine Democrats passed S.1, the bill to authorize construction of the 840 mile Keystone XL pipeline which Obama has vowed to veto.
Today in Washington. D.C., Jan. 29, 2015
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate resumed consideration of S.1, the bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Senate, under the new Republican majority, also voted 62-35 to invoke cloture on S.1, the Keystone bill. Nine Democrats voted with Republicans. A vote on final passage is expected in about an hour. And if the Nine democrats stay with the Republicans the bill will pass.

Prior to the cloture vote, the Senate voted on three more amendments to the bill. All required 60 votes for adoption by a unanimous consent agreement. Senators voted 47-51 to reject an amendment offered by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), expressing the sense of Congress that reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund should be a priority, 59-39 to reject an amendment from Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), permanently reauthorizing that fund, and 45-53 to reject an amendment from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), that would have established a renewable electricity standard.

Yesterday, the Senate voted on 11 more Keystone bill amendments by both Republicans and Democrats  each amendment required 60 votes for adoption, and all failed. The Senate rejected amendments from: Sen. Cardin, which would have required yet another study, this time of risks to drinking water from a potential spill, by a vote of 36-62; Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), which would have halted pipeline construction until another study by the administration of pipelines in the Great Lakes was completed, by a vote of 40-58; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which would have established an Energy Department program to provide rebates for solar panel installation, by a vote of 40-58; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), which would have expedited applications and approvals for the export of liquid natural gas, by a vote of 53-45; Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), which would have removed the Lesser Prairie Chicken from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, by a vote of 54-44; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), which would have singled out citizens and employers involved in energy production for special campaign finance disclosure requirements, by a vote of 44-52; Sen. Daines, which would have expressed the sense of Congress that national monument designations should be subject to consultation with local governments and approval by the state where it would be located, by a vote of 50-47; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), which would have expressed the sense of Congress that climate change is impacting the safety of US infrastructure and declaring the necessity for the government to offer insurance programs to mitigate the issue, by a vote of 47-51; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which would have required areas the Interior Dept. has declared wilderness areas to be released from that status if Congress has not designated them so within one year, by a vote of 50-48; Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), that would have expressed the sense of Congress that the wind energy production tax credit should be extended to 2020, by a vote of 47-51; and Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), which would have required fracking and natural gas storage be regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, by a vote of 35-63.

Some of these issues are expected to return either individually or as actual bills. It appears as if the Keystone XL Pipeline will go to the Presidents desk principally as a clean bill as intended by the U.S. House.

Speaking on the floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. But the Keystone jobs debate has been important for the Senate and for our country. We took about a dozen more roll-call votes on amendments yesterday. That means the Senate has now taken more than twice as many of these amendment votes on this bill alone than were allowed all of last year.”

As Leader McConnell said, “The debate over these American jobs has shown that, with bipartisan cooperation, it’s possible to get Washington functioning again. This debate is also proving that the new Congress is ready to work hard for the middle class — even in the teeth of opposition from powerful special interests. Let’s notch one more win for the middle class by passing this important infrastructure project.

Once the bill has finally passed the Senate, which is expected later today, President Obama will have an important choice to make. Will he finally end the years of stalling from his administration and allow these jobs to go forward, or will he side with deep-pocketed millionaires and liberal special interests who have fought tooth-and-nail to block this popular project?

The House is NOT in session today. It is scheduled to reconvene at 2:00 PM tomorrow, Jan. 30, 2015.

Yesterday the House debated an passed H.R. 351 (277-133) — "To provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas, and for other purposes." Forty-one democrats joined 236 republican in the passage of the bill. Republican Rep Chris Gibson (NY) voted with 132 Democrats opposing the bill.

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Posted by Bill Smith at 1:00 PM - Post Link


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