Keystone Kabuki

One thing that most definitely will change with the impending GOP takeover of the Senate is the power to bring up or stall floor actions. So the moment that 51st seat slid into the GOP column on November 4, it became a certainty that legislation to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would reach the Senate floor early in the next session.

So Harry Reid jumped the gun and decided to bring the thing up himself (in conjunction with simultaneous action in the House), reportedly as a favor to chief sponsor Mary Landrieu, who is struggling to survive a December 3 runoff in her fossil-fuel-energy-producing state.

What no one knows for sure is whether Democratic senators will eventually filibuster the bill, and what Barack Obama will say or do, though the White House dropped a pretty strong hint earlier today that the bill is veto-bait because jump-starts a decision the administration is still considering.

If there is a vote Senate-watchers will carefully watch the Democratic senators who are sticking around in January to see whether the bill could be filibuster-proofed if not veto-proofed when the new GOP senators take office. I doubt anything will change, so maybe it’s all a harmless gesture on behalf of Landrieu. But I do not blame Keystone XL opponents for worrying that in the end, when all the studying is done, the president chooses to make the project a bone thrown to fossil fuel fans in both parties as he’s fighting tooth and nail for EPA climate change regs.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.