Congress to Delay Sending Keystone Bill to Obama Until After Break, Shimkus Says

Energy and Climate Report provides current, thorough coverage of clean energy, efficiency, and climate change legislation, regulation, policy, legal developments, and trends in the U.S. and...

By Ari Natter

Feb. 12 — Congressional leaders will delay sending legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to the White House until after the week-long Presidents' Day break, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) confirmed to Bloomberg BNA.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) informed Republicans of the plan during a conference meeting Feb. 12, said Shimkus, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

“I don't think it was a surprise,” Shimkus said in an interview. “I think it's a great success; we need to make sure our districts know about it.”

The bill (S. 1) was given final approval by the House in a 270-152 vote Feb. 11. It has garnered a veto threat from President Barack Obama because it would circumvent an ongoing White House review of the project. 

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), the bill's author, told reporters Feb. 12 that it would be better if Congress were in town when President Obama vetoes the bill “so attention is brought to it,” the Associated Press reported.

The Senate passed the bill Jan. 29 by a 62-36 vote, five short of the votes needed to override a presidential veto.

The $8 billion project first proposed by TransCanada Corp. in 2008 would carry heavy oil from Alberta to refineries in Texas. It has become a proxy for Obama's commitment to climate change, with environmental groups opposed to the pipeline and labor unions and energy companies supporting it.

“Let's let the public decide,” Shimkus said. “We hope [Obama] changes his mind.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com