A Republican bid to fast-track the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline was defeated by Senate Democrats Thursday in a vote to amend the highway funding bill.

The Keystone amendment needed 60 votes to overcome a possible filibuster, but got only 56 to 42. Eleven Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus in backing the plan, CNN reported.

President Barack Obama put the project on hold earlier this year pending further review of part of the route. Republicans wanted to wrest the approval process from his control.

Obama personally lobbied wavering Democrats to block passage of the amendment, CNN reported.

He made some calls, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the vote. The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose (exact) route has yet to be proposed.

While the amendment would have approved construction of most of the pipeline route, it would not have allowed any work immediately in Nebraska. Republican Gov. Dave Heineman cited environmental concerns in opposing the original proposed route.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., condemned the administration for opposing the bill, The Washington Post reported.