Pledging Allegiance

So since everybody knows the presidential is going to veto the bill forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, why is the GOP going through such an elaborate exercise to send it up to him, with all these amendment votes and the House-Senate discussions and the brouhaha. One reason is reasonably obvious: the project has for quite some time been the only tangible job-creating idea the GOP had–you know, other than the usual cut-taxes-and-spending-and-let-job-creators-run-wild stuff.

But as TNR’s Rebecca Leber explains, Republicans also were obeying their instructions from Koch Brothers-funded groups who wanted a full debate over Keystone and were scoring every vote.

Just one month into the new Congress, and already the Kochs’ fossil fuel interests—which include oil pipelines and refineries—have neatly aligned with Republican priorities. The Koch network’s campaign for and against Keystone amendments not only offers a preview of future energy battles, but demonstrate their difficult-to-quantify political influence.

In January, three conservative groups—Heritage Action, American Energy Alliance (AEA), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—combined for a total of seven key vote alerts on amendments that would count in their congressional scorecards. The alerts serve as a warning: If a senator votes against the group’s interest, he or she risks future attacks from the right. All three groups are tied to the Kochs: AFP is considered the brothers’ “main political arm,” and they have contributed to Heritage and AEA.

Leber notes that Republican senators from wind-energy-producing states dutifully voted against an amendment to restore an expired wind production tax credit. And needless to day, they backed the underlying bill, all 53 Republicans who voted:

All three groups endorsed the overall Keystone XL bill, of course. Koch Industries stands to gain financially from the pipeline’s construction, because the behemoth company owns an estimated 1.1 million acres of leases for Canada’s tar sands and the pipeline would likely boost development there.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.