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The U.S. Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a plan to fast-track TransCanada’s (NYSE:TRP) Keystone XL pipeline, but Democrats are unlikely to give their support to the measure that President Barack Obama earlier put on hold pending further environmental review.
The $7 billion pipeline project would ship oil from Canada and the northern United States to Texas and the Gulf area, create jobs, and improve energy security at a time when gas prices at the pump are surging because of instability in the Middle East — at least, that’s what Republicans will argue.
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Republicans have attached the the measure as an amendment to a highway funding bill in hopes of pushing it through Congress, but it would still need 60 votes to pass, which means at least 13 Democrats in the Senate would have to vote in favor of the measure for it to advance.
Obama has called on Democratic senators to reject the measure, which Republicans have sought to make a major issue in the November presidential election, linking Obama’s delay to rising gasoline prices. “At a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are sky rocketing and the Middle East is in turmoil, we’ve got a president who’s up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home. It’s unbelievable,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
While the president has supported construction of the southern leg of the pipeline, he is concerned about the route through an environmentally sensitive area of Nebraska. However, he has not yet been able to assess the route to make a decision one way or another, as the route has yet to even be identified, according to White House spokesman Clark Stevens. “Once again, Republicans are trying to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed,” Stevens said.
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