UPDATE 3-Keystone XL clears hurdle in Senate despite Obama veto threat
(Adds Senate Majority Leader quote, paragraph 4, background)
By Timothy Gardner and David Lawder
WASHINGTON Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday advanced a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, their top priority in a new campaign to push back President Barack Obama's policies now that they fully control Congress.
The Republican-led Senate Energy Committee approved the measure on a 13-9 vote, sending it to the full Senate for consideration next week. The House of Representatives has scheduled a vote to approve the pipeline on Friday.
Obama has threatened to veto the measure, setting up an early battle over the TransCanada Corp project that would link Canadian oil sands to refineries in Texas.
"Keystone is the largest shovel-ready infrastructure project in the country," said new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "So we're going to send it to him (Obama) and we hope he'll sign it."
The project attracted one Democratic vote on the panel, from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who co-sponsored Keystone legislation with North Dakota Republican John Hoeven.
"By golly we need this oil. And I'd rather buy it from Canada than Venezuela," Manchin said during a hearing before the panel vote.
Hoeven says 63 senators support the measure, four less than the 67 needed to override a veto. Backers of the project hope the full Senate will debate amendments that would create more Democratic support. Continued...