Senate supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of their legislation that would have cleared construction of the project.
Needing two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to turn back the veto, Senate Republicans, joined by eight centrist Democrats, got only 62.
It was a defeat for business minded senators who believe the project — which would deliver oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico — would create thousands of jobs and help ease U.S. dependence on energy from hostile nations. They are frustrated the administration’s review process has taken several years.
“President Obama chose deep-pocketed special interests over the middle class with his partisan veto of the Keystone jobs bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.
But it was a victory for environmentally focused Democrats who argue the government should not help facilitate the continued reliance on greenhouse gas causing fossil fuels.
“The Senate and President Obama have sent an important message that the United States finally is listening to the scientific community and recognizing that global warming poses a real threat to our planet,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats. “At a time when we should be doing everything we can to promote the development of clean sources of energy, it would have been crazy to let a Canadian oil company ship some of the dirtiest oil on the planet across the United States.”
It was the first time in President Barack Obama’s term that the Senate, which until January was controlled by Democrats, attempted an override of a veto. In fact, Keystone was only the third veto Obama has issued in his 6 years in office
The override vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday but one or more Democrats forced a delay through a filibuster so the vote was pushed back to Thursday. But with up to 8 inches of snow expected in the nation’s capital overnight, Senate leaders moved the vote up.
After the vote, senators were free head to the airports and leave early for their weekends.