UPDATE 2-Keystone passes in U.S. Senate, faces Obama veto

Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:40pm EST
 
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(Adds final vote count, background)

By Timothy Gardner and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON Jan 29 (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. Senate made good on a pledge to pass the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline on Thursday, a measure the White House said President Barack Obama would veto.

Senators voted 62-36 on the bill to bypass the Obama administration's review of Keystone, five short of the number needed to overturn a potential rejection by the president. All Republicans present voted for the bill as did nine Democrats.

Approving Keystone has been the top priority of Republicans in the new Congress after they won control of the Senate in November.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Keystone would be good for the middle class and "pump billions" of dollars into the economy.

Debate on the bill lasted most of the month with Senators engaging in an open process espoused by McConnell to debate dozens of amendments. Only a handful of the amendments passed, including one from Senator Lisa Murkowski, the chair of the energy committee, in which companies transporting crude from Canada's oil sands would have to contribute to an oil spill fund.

Obama has raised new questions about the number of jobs it would create and said that Keystone would mainly benefit the company that wants to build it, TransCanada Corp, not U.S. gasoline consumers.

While the project would create thousands of temporary construction jobs, a State Department report said fewer than 40 workers would operate Keystone XL, once built.   Continued...