House Speaker John Boehner says Republicans are "not even close" to giving up the fight over the Keystone X-L pipeline. And he says President Barack Obama's veto today of a bill that would approve construction of the pipeline is a "national embarrassment."
Obama is offering no indication of whether he will eventually issue a permit for the pipeline. It's become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over environmental policy and climate change.
The veto sends the issue back to Congress, where Republicans haven't shown they can muster the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to override it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will start the process to try to override Obama's veto by next week. Republicans are also considering inserting Keystone into other critical legislation dealing with energy, spending or infrastructure that Obama would be less likely to veto.
The pipeline would connect Canada's tar sands with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast that specialize in processing heavy crude oil. It needs a permit because it would cross an international boundary.
US Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, released a statement in response to the decision:
"The president not only vetoed bipartisan legislation today to finish building the Keystone pipeline, but he also denied Americans thousands of new, well-paying jobs and the opportunity to progress towards energy independence. In my home state of Oklahoma on March 22, 2012, he acknowledged that America is producing 'so much oil and gas in places like North Dakota and Colorado that we don't have enough pipeline capacity to transport all of it.' Today he confirmed this was just another campaign stump speech that he did not intend to back up with real solutions. I stand in strong support of a veto override vote. Congress must ban together with the majority of Americans who support this job-creating initiative. The U.S. energy sector has faithfully provided over 9.2 million jobs to our economy, and it is unfortunate the president has failed to lead the way in standing for energy independence, national security, and a more robust economy.”
Governor Mary Fallin also released a statement in response:
“We are sorely disappointed by President Obama's decision to veto the Keystone XL pipeline legislation. This project is a bipartisan, common-sense opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs and bolster our nation's energy security. In spite of the President's opposition, my fellow Republican governors and I will continue to strongly support American energy as we work to grow and strengthen our state economies.”
US Senator James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, released a statement as well:
“Since the beginning of this debate six years ago, the dialogue has been dominated by misinformation and political sensationalism. Our nation already has thousands of miles of pipeline flowing through it, which transports crude oil faster and safer than many of the alternatives. All of the inaccuracies have been addressed; it is time to build.
“It's also ironic for the President to cite Executive Branch protection of the constitutional process for this veto. A President who has repeatedly overstepped his boundaries on issue after issue, including immigration, is now criticizing Congress for acting on this permit.
“This Keystone issue is bigger than oil; it is a demonstration of an Executive that refuses to answer a simple pipeline permit request. The President refuses to say ‘yes' or ‘no' to the infrastructure project itself. For six years, his answer has been ‘wait.'
“Today's veto is further proof that President Obama is more focused on politics and satisfying special interests, than growing the economy and securing energy independence for America. After Republicans took control of the Senate, President Obama said he wanted to work with Republicans; the Keystone XL Pipeline was a perfect opportunity for a bipartisan accomplishment and the President walked away.”