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Senate Democrats force cancellation of hearing on Keystone bill

Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) discuss their bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Photo from Facebook

The 114th Congress got off to a rocky start today as Senate Democrats forced the cancellation of a hearing on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline and President Barack Obama issued a veto threat even before a bill was filed.

On behalf of an unnamed Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) objected to tomorrow's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But Republicans said that wouldn't stop their efforts -- the very first bill in the Senate is S.1 to approve the pipeline.

"While this means we won’t be having a hearing tomorrow, it does not slow down the Keystone XL floor process," an aide on the Senate committee said in an e-mail today.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, is the lead Republican sponsor of the bill. It has 60 co-sponsors, including at least one Democrat, but it drew a veto threat from the White House before it was introduced.

“There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today. “I think the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.”

Even though there won't be a hearing tomorrow, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the new Senate majority leader, has started a process known as Rule 14 in order to speed up consideration of S.1. Meanwhile in the House, Republicans are planning a vote on their version of the bill -- it's expected to pass easily.

Get the Story:
Senate panel cancels Keystone hearing after Dem objections (The Hill 1/6)
White House says president would veto Keystone pipeline bill (The Washington Post 1/6)
Boehner: Keystone veto threat shows Obama 'hopelessly out of touch' (The Hill 1/6)
House to vote on Keystone bill Friday (The Hill 1/6)

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