The Senate voted today to kick off a debate over legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, voting 63-32 to take up a bill that would short-circuit President Obama's authority over the $8 billion pipeline.
Ten Democrats and one independent joined every Republican in advancing the Keystone bill, though some pipeline backers in Obama's party could end up opposing the legislation in a final vote if Republicans attach amendments that pull it to the right during what could be a weeks-long open floor debate. The addition of efforts to restrict Obama's pending climate rule for power plants, for example, could cut into Keystone's Democratic support. A bipartisan amendment boosting energy efficiency, on the other hand, could help win more votes for the pipeline bill.
Supporters of yanking Obama's authority over Keystone, emboldened Friday by a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling that upheld the validity of the pipeline's route, count about 63 votes as of now. Environmentalists and Democrats fighting the bill are confident that the four votes necessary to override a presidential veto will remain out of reach for the GOP, which is also well short of a veto-proof margin in the House.