The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected on Wednesday to approve legislation mandating construction of the Keystone XL pipeline's northern leg, but its chances of reaching the Senate floor are already dashed.
"I agreed to give them a vote. They, the Republicans, they wouldn't take it," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in reference to a May proposal allowing the same standalone Keystone XL measure in exchange for an amendment-free energy-efficiency bill.
Getting the bill to the floor was a long shot after that. But committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is facing a tough re-election fight, wants to brandish her support for Keystone XL in a race that, for Louisiana voters, has turned into a proxy vote on which party should control the Senate.
Landrieu and her GOP Senate challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, have virtually identical views on energy issues -- Landrieu has even netted $393,000 this cycle from the oil and gas industry, according to OpenSecrets.org, which is third amongst all House and Senate lawmakers (Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, clock in at No. 1 and No. 2).
But Republicans and outside conservative groups — with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm — have said a Reid-led Senate is antithetical to Landrieu's energy priorities.
“I think that is why Mary Landrieu is bringing this forward as a show vote in the energy committee this week,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." “But Harry Reid could have taken this to the Senate floor weeks ago. He has chosen not to.”
Landrieu told reporters last week that getting a vote on Keystone XL would be the responsibility of Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., once it clears her panel.
"That will be their negotiation. I will have done my part," Landrieu said.
The bill is almost certain to pass the committee with bipartisan support. It is co-sponsored by Landrieu and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., as well as 54 others, all of whom have urged President Obama to OK the Canada-to-Texas oil sands project that has been under federal review for nearly six years.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that it is possible Keystone XL approval could surface as an amendment to another piece of legislation. As for a standalone vote, he told reporters Tuesday, "I don't think so. But I don't know."