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Keystone Approval Sought by Republicans Daring Obama Veto

Laura Litvan, Bloomberg

A top priority for a Republican-led Senate will be to send President Barack Obama a bill to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline and dare him to veto it.

While most senators support TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed $5.4 billion Canada-to-U.S. oil pipeline, the Senate under a Democratic majority hasn’t held a binding vote on it since 2012. The Republican-controlled House has repeatedly voted to permit the pipeline’s construction.

Advocates say the shift in Senate leadership next year will give them more leverage in the oil-versus-environment debate that has raged since TransCanada applied for a permit in 2008. While they say they have at least the 60 votes needed to get a bill through Congress, they will lack the two-thirds margin to override a presidential veto.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, poised to lead the Republican majority in January, told Time magazine in an interview published online today that Keystone is among a handful of items the Senate is “very likely” to vote on early in 2015.

“I think we need to do everything we can to get America back to work,” said McConnell of Kentucky, who plans a news conference in Louisville today to discuss his agenda.

Charles Ebinger, director of the energy security initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, predicted that Obama would veto any bill requiring approval of the pipeline.

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