November 18, 2014

Keystone short by one inch. The good and bad.

The Senate has rejected the Keystone pipeline.  There's good and bad in that.
Sen. Mary Landrieu’s bid to pass a Keystone XL pipeline bill fell short by the slimmest of margins Tuesday, leaving the $8 billion pipeline still on the table for the ascendant Republican Party to push the project to President Barack Obama’s desk in January.

The 59-41 Senate vote was just shy of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill, following a dramatic six days of whipping by the embattled Louisiana Democrat on an issue that almost all of Washington had expected to sit idle until next year.

The defeat deals a blow to Landrieu’s campaign ahead of her Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, whom polls show running comfortably ahead. Winning on Keystone would have helped her demonstrate her clout on the Hill as a champion of her state’s influential oil and gas industry.
The good - the passage would have aided a Democrat who sat idly by on the issue for years and is only pushing it now that she is in deep political peril. She deserves no credit on the pipeline, even if she got it to pass. So the bill's failure will allow Republicans to take credit for the passage when it finally does pass the 60 vote threshold after the new senate is sworn in. A Democrat controlled senate allowing this to come up for a vote now is clearly a political grant to Landrieu, but having done so and not passing it, indicates that even DEmocrats think she's toast.

The bad - there's still no pipeline. The timing for this would have been great because it would have put pressure on president Obama to appear to be willing to work with Republicans right before he poisons the well with amnesty for illegal immigrants. After the well gets poisoned, the president will claim no one can work with these Republicans and he will have no reason to sign a Keystone bill (or any others), so the Keystone pipeline will likely get a veto, and sit undone for two more years.

The interesting -  how exactly did the Democrats get to their calculus on this issue? It's not clear, but Joe Manchin, possible future REpublican was not impressed:
The bill’s failure left a bad taste in the mouth of centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who had urged his colleagues in a closed door meeting to support it.

“This was ridiculous for us to [get] 59, one short. It really was uncalled for,” he said.
Political soundbite or true distaste? TBD.

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