The Keystone bill cleared the senate in January and passed in the House earlier this month, but the legislation was swiftly vetoed this afternoon by President Barack Obama.
Above: Demonstrators rally in support of Obama's pledge to veto legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, on January 10, 2015 | Credit: Jose Luis Magana / AP
The Senate received Obama's veto message and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately countered by announcing the Republican-led chamber would attempt to overturn the veto by March 3. Obama rejected the bill hours after it was sent to the White House. Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.
...Despite their majority in the Senate, Republicans are four votes short of being able to override Obama's veto.
President Obama has issued the following memo to the Senate:
I am returning herewith without my approval S. 1, the"Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act." Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest.
The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.
According to The Washington Post, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier Tuesday that Obama intended to veto the bill in light of the State Department's ongoing review "of whether the massive pipeline — which would transport roughly 800,000 barrels of heavy crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to refineries in Port Arthur, Tex. — would serve the national interest." Notably, Earnest did not rule out Obama's eventual approval.
"It certainly is possible," Earnest said. "The president will keep an open mind as the State Department considers the wide range of impacts that this pipeline could have on the country, both positive and negative."
In other words: This is far from over.