The U.S. Senate on Monday failed to approve the Keystone XL pipeline bill after a vote fell short of the required number needed to end long-running debate, as Democrats protested Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bid to end debate before all pending amendments had been decided. Keystone XL is intended to carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast, with a southern 485-mile portion of the proposed span running from the crude market hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, to refineries near Port Arthur, Texas, having already been approved.
The Keystone bill would allow Congress to approve an $8 billion project that would link Canada’s tar sands crude oil 1,700 miles to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The Senate voted 53-39 on the measure, short of the required 60 votes to invoke cloture, sending potential final passage of the bill into next week. The Senate has been debating the bill, its top priority, since the new Congress convened Jan. 6.
Democrats were angered by the tactics of McConnell, R-Ky., who kept the Senate working until midnight last Thursday to get through Keystone amendments filed by both parties and tabled several Democratic amendments at midnight.
Ahead of the vote, McConnell urged fellow senators to pass the bill.
The House version of the bill approving the pipeline, bypassing the traditional executive branch approval process needed for projects that cross an international border, passed Jan. 9 with mainly Republican support.
The White House has continued to hold off on approval of the pipeline, despite fierce pressure from GOP lawmakers and business groups and a Nebraska Supreme Court decision earlier this month that upheld the state’s approval of the Keystone route through the state, a case that had been cited by President Barack Obama as a major stumbling block for the pipeline.
The administration has threatened to veto any legislation seeking to force its hand, and although lawmakers can override a veto with a two-thirds majority in each chamber, the party makeup of each chamber and related votes so far suggest any such effort would fall short.