By a vote of two hundred and forty-one to one hundred and seventy-five, the U.S. House tonight opted to approve a Republican-backed bill that essentially seeks to give Canadian petroleum giant TransCanada final approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline through the American Midwest (and across the border into Alberta).
Nineteen Democrats sided with two hundred and twenty-two Republicans to pass the bill (H.R. 3). No Republicans voted against the bill, but some did not vote.
The Pacific Northwest’s delegation broke down by party lines. The roll call:
Voting Aye: Republicans Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Raúl Labrador and Mike Simpson (ID), Steve Daines (MT)
Voting Nay: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Denny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader (OR)
Not Voting: Republicans Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA), Don Young (AK)
The nineteen Democrats who voted against protecting our environment and for rubber stamping TransCanada’s application to build Keystone XL were:
- John Barrow (GA-12) Blue Dog
- Sanford Bishop (GA-02) Blue Dog
- Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
- Jim Cooper (TN-05) Blue Dog
- Jim Costa (CA-16) Blue Dog
- Henry Cuellar (TX-28) Blue Dog
- William Enyart (IL-12)
- Al Green (TX-09)
- Gene Green (TX-29)
- Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
- Sean Maloney (NY-12)
- Sean Matheson (UT-04) Blue Dog
- Mike McIntyre (NC-07) Blue Dog
- Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
- William Owens (NY-21)
- Colin Peterson (MN-07) Blue Dog
- Terri Sewell (AL-07)
- Filemon Vela (TX-34)
- John Yarmuth (KY-03)
The bill now moves to the Senate, which has previously indicated its support for allowing the pipeline project to go forward. However, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill – on Tuesday, the White House released a statement making its opposition to H.R. crystal clear.
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3, which among other things, would: (1) declare that a Presidential Permit is not required for the Keystone XL crude oil, cross-border pipeline, including the Nebraska reroute evaluated by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality; (2) deem that the final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Department of State on August 26, 2011, satisfies all National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act requirements; and (3) deem that Secretary of the Interior actions satisfy Endangered Species Act requirements enabling the needed right-of-way. Further, the bill would require the Secretary of the Army to issue project-related permits pursuant to the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and prohibit the EPA Administrator from restricting or disallowing any activities or uses of areas authorized by the bill.
H.R. 3 conflicts with longstanding Executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the President, the Secretaries of State, the Interior, and the Army, and the EPA Administrator. In addition, the bill is unnecessary because the Department of State is working diligently to complete the permit decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could have serious security, safety, environmental, and other ramifications.
Because H.R. 3 seeks to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by removing the Presidential Permitting requirement for the Keystone XL pipeline project, if presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.
Emphasis is theirs.
An override of a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote of each house. There are four hundred and thirty-five members of the U.S. House and one hundred members of the U.S. Senate. H.R. 3 did not pass with a two-thirds vote; even if the Republicans who did not vote in favor yesterday were to have voted aye, the bill would still not have passed with a veto-proof majority.
Republicans cannot get to a veto-proof majority in the House to pass H.R. 3 unless more Democrats were to flip and cross over. It seems very unlikely that any of the Democrats who voted nay yesterday would be interested in changing their votes in order to override a veto by President Obama.
Given that the president has threatened to veto the bill, it doesn’t seem that Senate Democratic leadership has any incentive to capitulate to Republican demands to give the bill a vote. H.R. 3 may simply die in committee.
Republicans really want Keystone XL built, but they’d need the cooperation of some oil-stained Democrats to pass H.R. 3. They’d need even more Democratic help to override a presidential veto… help they are extremely unlikely to get.