After two years of inaction on the Keystone XL pipeline, it could be a Louisiana Senate run-off that finally forces Congress to vote on the measure.
The so-called Bayou Brawl was on full display on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the two candidates – Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy – raced to be first to hold a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Fresh off the campaign trail, Landrieu, D-La., implored Senate Republicans Wednesday to allow a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline in the lame duck session, saying it would be a good moment for future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work in a bipartisan manner.
“I believe it is time to act. I believe that we should take the new majority leader at his word and stop blocking legislation that is broadly supported by the American public and has been for quite some time,” Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, said on the Senate floor. “I want to say yes to majority leader, to new majority leader Mitch McConnell. The time to start is now.”
But Republicans on the other side of the Capitol are working swiftly to hold a vote of their own on the pipeline, a measure that is sponsored by Landrieu’s opponent Cassidy. The House Rules Committee announced it was holding a meeting Wednesday night to consider the Keystone XL pipeline bill, described as an “emergency measure,” and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the measure would be considered on the House floor Thursday.
The Senate agreed to hold a vote on Keystone XL as early as Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that Senate Democrats were considering holding a vote on Keystone XL to help Landrieu in her December 6 run-off in Louisiana. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the idea a “bad joke.”
“I think it’s kind of too little too late and everybody gets the bad joke right?” Cornyn told reporters Wednesday.“That under the current management Senator Landrieu couldn’t even get a vote on this piece of legislation that might’ve actually helped her on November the 4th but now they’re going to do it before December the 6th? I think people are smarter than that,” Cornyn told reporters Wednesday. "
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will appoint Cassidy to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee should he win run-off.
Throughout her campaign, Landrieu touted her support for the Keystone XL pipeline as well as her chairmanship on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Most Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the Senate support the pipeline.
President Obama has refrained from making a decision on the construction of the 1,700-mile long pipeline which would range from Canada down to Texas. Last week, the president said he would allow the State Department’s independent review process on the pipeline to “play out.”
Senate Democrats attempted to hold a vote on the measure earlier this year, but Senate Republicans wanted to add additional energy related amendments to the measure, which kept it from moving forward.