Just as the new Congress began yesterday, the White House announced that President Obama would veto the measure authorizing construction on the Keystone XL pipeline expected to pass the House on Friday, the Washington Post reported.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president would not sign the bill which would allow the construction of the pipeline that would transfer crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
President Obama has said that he is unable to make a final decision on the pipeline until the State Department finishes its environmental review of the project, which is on hold as Nebraska courts hash out the pipeline’s route.
“I would not anticipate that the president would sign this legislation,” said Earnest. “There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country. I think the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.”
Republicans, of course, are using this possible veto to paint themselves as the victims in this situation.
New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement, “The president threatening to veto the first bipartisan infrastructure bill of the new Congress must come as a shock to the American people, who spoke loudly in November in favor of bipartisan accomplishments.”
Apparently the GOP forgot that they recently caused an entire government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.
Earnest noted this, saying yesterday, “Maybe it raises questions about the willingness of the Republicans to actually cooperate with this administration when you consider that the very first bill that’s introduced in the United States Senate is one that Republicans know the president opposes.”
If the bill does make it to the president, which is likely given the GOP control over both chambers of Congress, when vetoed it will then go back to the Senate where it would require 67 votes for a veto override.
When asked by the Post whether or not Democrats can sustain a veto on Keystone, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), one of the pipeline’s loudest critics in Washington, said, “Based on the last roll call [in November], we do.”
Republicans believe they have picked up enough votes from new Senators, but, as The Guardian reported, TransCanada officials aren’t as optimistic that the legislation could could pass after a presidential veto.
While any upcoming vote will by no means be the final world on the pipeline, environmentalists and other groups opposed to the pipeline are taking it as a small victory, albeit a temporary one.