Keystone Vote Slipping Away: Hoeven

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in a march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2014.

Photograph by Pete Marovich/Boomberg

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline join the Cowboy and Indian Alliance in a march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2014.

Keystone supporters in the Senate say they’re seeing their chance slipping away to get colleagues on record on the long-stalled oil-pipeline project.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised supporters, including Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, that they could get a vote as early as next week on a measure that sidesteps the Obama administration and approves TransCanada Corp.’s proposed $5.4 billion Keystone XL project. But that was linked all along to a promise from Republicans that they not seek to add a host of energy-related amendments to a separate bill under debate this week in the Senate that boosts efficiency standards for buildings.

With Republicans balking over Reid’s no-amendment posture and Reid showing no signs of changing his mind, Hoeven said today that he predicts the energy-efficiency bill will be blocked next week, with even Republicans who back it unwilling to help Democrats dislodge the debate. That means a stand-alone vote on Keystone probably will have to wait until later this year or 2015, he said.

“We’re still trying to work out a deal this week, but obviously at this point it doesn’t look like we’re going to get one,” Hoeven said. “We may revisit this because a lot of people want to get something done.”

Landrieu blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is battling to offer an amendment to the energy-conservation bill that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new carbon statndards for U.S. power plants. Those rules would hurt his home-state coal industry and fighting them figures into his 2014 re-election bid.

“Senator Reid has already said yes” to the Keystone vote, said Landrieu, who wants to be on record opposing the president’s position on the pipeline for her own re-election purposes. “It’s up to Mitch McConnell.”

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