Keystone Goes Down

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • KEYSTONE PIPELINE FAILS IN THE SENATE: The controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline failed to win approval in a Senate vote last night by one vote, a blow to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who hoped to be able to push it through, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Landrieu, who is in a tight December run-off to keep her Senate seat, had sponsored the bill and had expressed confidence earlier in the day that she and other supporters had rounded up the 60 votes necessary to approve the long stalled project. The final vote was 59-41. Shortly after the vote was tallied, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the Senate Majority Leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January, said he will bring up the issue again "early next year."
  • HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama delivers remarks this morning at a ConnectED conference on digital learning, with superintendents and other educators from across the country. It's part of an initiative to connect more schools to high-speed internet.


ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Does 2016 start today? Or maybe the real question is hasn't it already started? Well, even if it has today is an important marker in the run-up to the next presidential contest. The Republican Governors Association's annual conference, this year held in Boca Raton, will meet and likely celebrate their huge gains earlier this month, but it will also showcase many of the potential 2016 contenders that could come out of statehouses this cycle. This afternoon many of the top presidential possibilities will come together for a session titled "Republican Governors: The Road Ahead." It will feature Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The current, but outgoing, chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be on hand at an earlier press briefing and of course the many events over the week closed to the press. Today's events will be ones to watch for all 2016 observers.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Let's stipulate that Democrats won't win or lose a single election over the fact that Rep. Tammy Duckworth won't be able to vote in private caucus meetings while she's pregnant. But it's hard not to read the criticism of Democrats' decision to keep her from voting as a broader critique of party leadership and the public image being projected. According to Roll Call, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz were among House Democrats speaking up to allow Duckworth, who happens to also be a disabled veteran whose doctors have advised her not to travel, to participate in leadership decisions. Pelosi is citing longstanding House policies in opposing proxy voting, and Duckworth is dropping the fight. But coming after a rerun of the "war on women" strategy - used to less effect by Democrats this time around - Jon Stewart is on the case. Bad feelings are likely to linger inside Democratic circles, particularly with a Democratic wipeout nonetheless re-empowering the same leadership team the party had for a decade now.


CLINTON TOURISM IN ARKANSAS: GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE ON A 'BILLGRIMAGE.' The first Billgrims came 10 years ago. After the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library Nov. 18, 2004, travelers descended on Arkansas like never before. Suddenly, the state was welcoming people from all around the world who came to tour Bill Clinton's library and, along the way, visit other historic landmarks related to the former president. ABC's LIZ KREUTZ goes on a trip known as a "Billgrimage."



FLIP FLOP? WHITE HOUSE CONCEDES OBAMA SHIFT ON IMMIGRATION ACTION. President Obama has long declared he does not have the legal authority to do what he is about to do on immigration: bypass Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants through an executive order. "[I]f we start broadening that [the deferred action program for undocumented immigrant youth], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally… So that's not an option," he said last year. How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall? That's what ABC's JONATHAN KARL asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Tuesday's White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained "obviously there are some things that have changed on this." Watch the exchange here.

LOOK WHO'S COMING TO WASHINGTON: DC gets a high profile visitor today when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the White House and a progressive gathering, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. He's had a tough week with the departure of a top aide and now a new poll is out showing lower approval ratings. In a Quinnipiac University poll, de Blasio has a 49 to 36 percent job approval rating, similar to a 50 to 32 percent survey in August, but look at the racial divide. African-American New Yorkers approve of de Blasio 71 to 14 percent, Hispanic voters approve 56 to 27 percent and whites disapprove of the mayor 50 to 34 percent. Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll describes it this way: "It's a tale of two cities under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Black voters think the mayor is terrific. White voters don't approve. And the racial gap gets wider every time we ask."

WHY WASHINGTON IS TALKING ABOUT A SHUTDOWN - AGAIN. Talk of a shutdown is percolating again on Capitol Hill - this time over immigration, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The political scars of last year's government shutdown over Obamacare are still fresh, leading many Republicans to disavow suggestions they would consider shutting down the government again as an attempt to thwart President Obama's upcoming executive action on immigration reform.

NOTED: HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN. On the brink of President Obama's expected executive action on immigration, rumors of another potential government shutdown are swirling. It was just over a year ago when, on Oct. 1, 2013, the government shut down for 16 days after Congress was unable to agree on a budget for the new fiscal year. ABC's KIRSTEN APPLETON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI take a look at what happened the last time the government shut down.


RICK SANTORUM'S 'MADE IN AMERICA' CHRISTMAS. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the chairman of Patriot Voices PAC, is launching the group's second annual "Made in the USA" Christmas effort urging American shoppers to buy goods and gifts made in the United States this holiday season and to shop at local small businesses across the country. "This Christmas season, millions of hard-working American families are struggling to make ends meet," Santorum said in a statement. "If we hope to lift up all Americans, we must first support those families and the jobs they hold. This means supporting American companies and American made products in the check-out line." MORE:


@HuffPostPol: Inside Rand Paul's improbable vote to kill NSA reform

@scottwongDC: Happening today: Lottery for House freshmen to pick out their offices

@OKnox: Haven't found anyone in Senate who says Blinken won't ultimately be confirmed. Or anyone who says today's hearing will be easy.

@markknoller: Speaker Boehner calls the Child Care Bill a "vital initiative" providing low-income parents access to "safe & affordable child care."

@jmartNYT: Lack of support for Landrieu in her caucus is striking. She couldn't find 1 more dem (a retiree?) to give her 60 and avoid embarrassment