With a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline coming soon in the U.S. Senate, Missouri’s Senators say their views are unchanged from the last vote on the issue which came up one vote short of passage during the lame duck session of Congress in early December.
The measure cleared a Senate committee Thursday with a vote of 13 to 9. The bill is sponsored by a Republican (Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota) and a Democrat (Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia).
As with most Republicans, Sen. Blunt is a solid “yes” vote on the issue. Blunt says the importance of the pipeline go beyond the scope of the project itself.
“The jobs that are created once we decide we’re going to embrace more American energy, have a lot more to do with making things and growing things and moving things around once people know they’ve got a utility bill they can pay, and a transportation system that works,” said Blunt earlier this week during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
Sen. McCaskill bucked the Democratic trend when she voted for the project in December. She says she is still on board with Keystone XL, but warned Republicans had better not go too far with amendments on legislation that would give the green light to the project.
“If Republicans take all power away from the EPA, or do some other really damaging things to the environment through the amendment process, it will be a very difficult decision on final passage,” said McCaskill during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
Louis Finkel, executive vice president for government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute figures the bill has 63 supporters in the Senate with others that “have publicly expressed frustration with the [Obama] administration’s failure to act. I don’t know if that translates into votes yet, but it very well might.”
President Obama now says he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. The Senate needs 66 votes to override a veto. Blunt says he thinks the President can be persuaded to back down on his veto threat due the mood of the American people.
“People understand that this is a much bigger issue than the White House appears to, or than many in the debate that will come up think it is,” said Blunt. “It’s about embracing more energy. Let’s get more people back to work, and one way we can do that is to take advantage of the great energy opportunities that we have in North America.”
A vote in the U.S. Senate is likely to come in the next couple of weeks, with Senate leader Mitch McConnell promising the project would be one of the first items taken up on the floor during the new session.