It was symbolic, but the United States Senate has voted to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Senate on Friday voted 62-37 in favor of an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota designed to put the Senate on record in support of TransCanada’s proposal to build an oil pipeline from western Canada to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
Congressman Lee Terry, a strong supporter of Keystone XL, understands the 62-37 vote of support is non-binding, but says it’s significant.
“And to get 62 votes was incredible. That means it’s veto proof. It’s filibuster proof,” Terry tells Nebraska Radio Network.
All Senate Republicans voted in support of Keystone with 17 Democrats voting for the amendment. An even more lop-sided vote came later as the Senate rejected 33-66 an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California that called for more studies on Keystone.
Sen. Mike Johanns was among the Republicans voting for the measure.
“Keystone got an overwhelming vote,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Anytime you get up around two-thirds of the Senate voting for anything, that’s pretty remarkable.”
Still, the amendment is non-binding, the vote symbolic. The decision on whether TransCanada gets permission to cross the border and build the $7 billion, 1,700 mile pipeline remains for President Barack Obama to make.
Terry says the President simply has not tipped his hand
“When the president talked to us, I thought he went out of his way to give equal time to both sides, so leaving the impression that there’s no decision yet,” Terry says.
President Obama met with House Republicans recently, mostly to discuss the federal budget, but he addressed a number of issues, including Keystone.
The State Department will make a recommendation to the president. It is about in the middle of an official, 45-day comment period on the latest environmental study of Keystone XL. At the end of the comment period, the State Department plans to schedule public hearings, including in Nebraska.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]