Republican leaders in the House are leaning toward voting next week on the Senate version of the bill to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would set up the first veto of President Barack Obama’s presidency under a Republican-controlled Congress, Politico reported Monday. If the GOP takes that route, it may quicken the pace for the Obama administration to approve or reject the pipeline.
The House can either vote on the Senate version of the bill as is or write its own bill, pass that and then go into a conference committee with Senate leaders to hash out compromise legislation. A compromise bill might take too long, especially because eight agencies have a Monday deadline to weigh in on Keystone, according to Politico. After those agencies review the pipeline’s impact, the State Department will recommend an action for Obama, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. The State Department has to consider the $8 billion pipeline because its construction involves a foreign country. The proposed pipeline starts in western Canada and ends in refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Obama has threatened to veto the Keystone bill because it is similar to the one the Senate passed last year. The president believes the process should go through the State Department, not Congress, and is concerned about the environmental impact the crude-oil pipeline would have. "There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing last month.
Proponents of the bill say it will bring much-needed jobs to the U.S., while opponents argue the oil pipeline will harm the environment. The Senate approved the Keystone bill in a 62-36 vote on Thursday. Approving the pipeline is one of the top priorities of the Republican-controlled Congress.