Democrats plan Keystone XL counterattack

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are vowing to counter Republicans’ campaign for Keystone XL by trying to attach buy-American requirements, clean energy proposals and export restrictions to legislation authorizing the pipeline.

The Democratic proposals could be offered as amendments when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee votes on the Keystone XL legislation Thursday, or next week, when the bill is expected to see floor debate.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the amendments are designed “to make it more of a jobs bill.”

“We’re going to introduce an amendment to say that the steel used in the pipeline should be made in America, creating American jobs,” he said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We’re going to introduce an amendment that says that the oil that is used in the pipeline should be used in America.”

Another proposal would “add clean energy jobs,” Schumer said.

But even if all of the Democratic measures are adopted — an unlikely scenario in the Republican-controlled Senate convening on Tuesday — Schumer suggested it won’t change the outcome.

Keystone XL opponents still want President Barack Obama to veto the pipeline bill. And if Obama does, they count enough opponents in the Senate to sustain a veto.

“These amendments will make it better, but certainly not good enough at this point in time,” Schumer said. “And I think there will be enough Democratic votes to sustain the president’s veto.”

Obama has stopped short of issuing a direct veto threat on the legislation, but he has laid the groundwork for a veto in recent weeks by downplaying the benefits TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline would deliver to the United States.

Read more: Obama shrugs off Keystone XL benefits

First proposed six years ago, Keystone XL would run 1,170 miles from Alberta to Steele City, Neb., giving Canada’s oil sands crude a vital link to a Midwest oil hub and other pipelines that could ferry it to Gulf Coast refineries. It is a top priority for the oil industry and its allies on Capitol Hill.

The Senate rejected similar legislation to approve Keystone XL last November, with the proposal failing by one vote in the then-Democratically controlled chamber. Now that Republicans have seized control of the Senate and count more than 60 Keystone XL backers in the chamber, they are trying again.

Although Republican leaders expect the Senate and House to pass the bill, they have been far less bullish on the chances for overriding a presidential veto.
“We’re going to find out whether or not there are moderate Democrats in the Senate,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The question is, can we get to 67 (votes) if the president decides to veto it?” said Thune, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “It’s going to be up to a lot of those Democrats who have expressed support in this past as to whether or not, now that it really matters, it’s more than just a symbolic vote (and) whether or not they’re going to be there.”