Watch CBS News

Senate approves Keystone XL oil pipeline

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline were able to secure enough votes to pass a bill to begin construction on the pipeline Thursday, though they still fall short of the 67 that would be needed to override a presidential veto.

The bill passed with 62 votes Thursday after days of votes on amendments to end the measure. The House, which passed its own bill to fast track construction of the pipeline in January, must either pass the Senate version or reconcile the two bills before legislation can be sent to the White House.

President Obama has promised to veto the bill, questioning the number of jobs it would create and saying the State Department should have time to finish its review of the pipeline. The bill also did not get enough votes in the House to get past the two-thirds threshold necessary to overturn a veto.

"We're hoping the president, upon reflection, will agree to sign onto a bill that State Department says could create up to 42,000 jobs, his State Department says creates little or no impact on the environment," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Thursday. The State Department has also said that fewer than 40 people would be employed long-term to support the pipeline, a statistic frequently cited by the bill's opponents.

That was the argument of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, at a press conference ahead of the vote Thursday.

Chuck Schumer: Keystone is not a jobs bill 02:33

"Right out of the gate, the first act of the new Republican majority was to pass a special-interest bill that's a giveaway to foreign oil and steel companies and will do nothing to benefit the American people," Schumer said. "How can they argue that a bill that constructs a pipeline to carry the dirtiest oil from Canada through the heartland of the United States only to be exported abroad will benefit the middle class? Well they can't with a straight face."

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, echoed McConnell, calling the Keystone bill a "common-sense bill that would strengthen our energy security and create thousands and thousands of new, good-paying American jobs.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, told reporters that the Senate would likely try to attach Keystone to other energy legislation if Mr. Obama vetoes the legislation.

Nine Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.