House Passes Keystone Pipeline Bill

House Passes Keystone Pipeline Bill
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Despite the promise of a veto from President Obama, House Republicans approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday with the help of 28 Democrats.

The vote came just hours after the Nebraska Supreme Court delivered a blow to the White House and pipeline opponents by dismissing a challenge to its construction. The pipeline has been in limbo for the past six years and has become a political football in campaigns and on Capitol Hill.

The Senate is expected to take up Keystone legislation on Monday, and several moderate Democrats have already signed on, almost ensuring passage. But the president will reject the bill, arguing to let the process play out at the State Department.

The House bill passed, 266-153, but fell short of the number required to override a presidential veto, with 10 members not voting. So far, the Senate also appears short of the votes needed to move past the president.

Still, the bill allows Republicans to make good on campaign promises and set up at least one of several contrasts between the two parties.

“In light of today’s Nebraska Supreme Court ruling, the president should reconsider his threat to veto the Keystone pipeline and the tens of thousands of jobs it will create,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the vote. “A presidential veto would put his own political interests ahead of the needs and priorities of the American people. There is no excuse -- scientific or otherwise -- for the president to continue blocking the pipeline. An overwhelming majority of Americans support this job-creating energy project and President Obama ought to respect their will and stop standing in the way.”

Before the vote Friday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters the president's position on the pipeline hadn’t changed despite the Nebraska court ruling.

“As you know it is undergoing rigorous review, and we’re going to wait for that review to be completed before the president makes any decisions,” Schultz said.

Alexis Simendinger and Caitlin Huey-Burns contributed to this report.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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