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article imageWhite House announces Obama will veto Keystone Pipeline bill

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 6, 2015 in Politics
The very first bill that America's new Congress, which opened today, intends to send the President is one authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada into the U.S. They might as well not have bothered.
White House announces veto
The White House announced Tuesday, a scant two hours after Congress opened, that President Obama would veto such a bill. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the announcement to media and said the Obama administration wanted first to see an ongoing federal review process on Keystone completed before any bill went through.
Whatever their reasoning, the vetoing of such a bill would be a contentious start to the new season of governing. The Republicans are in control now, having widened their majority in the House of Representatives and taken over the Senate in the 2014 elections. If this very first bill is vetoed expect things to return to normal - e.g. pitched battles over every inch of legislation.
The biggest power Obama and the Democrats have remaining is the presidential veto and it may get plenty of use. The Republicans may, as many have stated they will, go after the Affordable Care Act and try to dismantle it a scant four years after it was officially introduced.
Phase IV of Keystone Pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline is actually Phase IV of the Keystone pipeline, the other three phases are running. This newest addition would include a larger diameter pipe and would see the pipeline go through the Sand Hills country of Nebraska.
Environmentalists say doing so would open up the potential for great harm to the area and the pipeline case is now before the Supreme Court of Nebraska. The ruling could come this week.
“There is already a well-established process in place to consider whether or not infrastructure projects like this are in the best interest of the country,” Earnest told the press conference. “I think the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.”
Republicans seemed particularly upset that before the bill had even reached the floor of the House, Obama was jumping in to say he would nix it should it be approved and sent on to him. But the U.S. President has long said that he not only wanted to wait for the court challenge and federal review process, but he also was not so sure the project would supply the kind of benefits many have claimed.
“The president did make clear that he was a little skeptical of the claims that are made by some of the most enthusiastic advocates of the pipeline’s construction," Earnest said. "About the impact it would have on energy prices or on job creation."
Dream of a bipartisan Washington
While Republicans say the announcement of a veto indicates Obama and the Democrats are not ready to have a bipartisan approach to the 114th U.S. Congress, as each side has promised they would do, the Democrats claimed the very same thing.
“Maybe it raises questions about the willingness of Republicans to actually cooperate with this administration when you consider that the very first bill that’s introduced in the United States Senate is one that Republicans know the president opposes.” Earnest said.
Should Obama veto a bill on the Keystone XL pipeline project the only answer Congress could have is to override it. However, that would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House, numbers that, despite their majorities, the Republicans could not reach.
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