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Republicans and red state Democrats want to put a poison pill into the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (Shaheen-Portman): the Keystone XL pipeline:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is talking with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and other senators about voting on the Keystone XL pipeline next week.

Reid said Tuesday that he has had discussions with Republican Sens. John Hoeven (N.D.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) about linking a nonbinding amendment on Keystone to energy efficiency legislation that will come to the Senate floor next week.

But he is also coming under pressure from some members to consider a vote on legislation urging President Obama to greenlight the controversial pipeline, according to a Senate aide.

He also complained that the pipeline’s proponents keep changing their demands, with some senators now urging a vote on binding legislation.

“Now they can’t decide what they want to vote on, so I can’t agree to something that I don’t know what it is,” Reid said.

“Originally, it was supposed to be a sense of the Senate. Now, they say they want an up-or-down [vote] on a piece of legislation. They can’t decide what it is,” he said.

Hoeven said lawmakers are discussing a potential deal that would set up a separate vote on Keystone.

“On Keystone, it may be an amendment, or we may negotiate for a stand-alone as part of the agreement,” he said.

If the vote is a stand-alone vote, it will not go anywhere because it would need 67 votes to pass the inevitable presidential veto. Obama may ultimately approve Keystone XL himself, but he (correctly) believes it is his prerogative, not the Senate's.

However, things get more dangerous if this is allowed to become a binding amendment to Shaheen-Portman, a middle-of-the-road energy efficiency bill.

Last year, during the budget "vote-o-rama," the Senate voted for an amendment by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, 62 to 37. 17 Democrats joined the 45 Republicans in voting for it.

If the vote mirrored that from last year, the amendment would pass, corrupting an otherwise decent bill. The challenge then becomes to flip some votes, keeping the total below 60.

First, let's see who voted no in 2013. We have 37 such senators:

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Barb Mikulski (D-MD)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Markey was not in the Senate for the 2013 Senate vote but voted against it in the House.

Those votes need to stay as is.

Frank Lautenberg was absent for the 2013 vote (because of illness) but would have voted no if present. I don't know where Cory Booker stands on the issue, but I would be somewhat surprised if he backed the pipeline.

Who needs to flip, then?

Let's look at the 17 Democrats who voted for Keystone XL last year:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

Max Baucus has since been replaced by John Walsh, but John Walsh also supports the Keystone XL pipeline.

Out of those 17 supporters, 11 recently sent a letter to Obama demanding that he approve the pipeline:

Mark Begich (D-AK)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
John Walsh (D-MT)
Mark Warner (D-VA)

I would call them all "lost causes."

The six Democrats who voted for Keystone XL but did not sign onto the letter are the following:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Five out of those six (all but Casey) voted against the Keystone XL pipeline back in 2012. In order for the amendment to be killed, at least three of them would have to flip their votes back and Booker would have to come through as an expected no.

If you live in one of those states, I'd recommend that you get in touch with your senator(s).

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Comment Preferences

  •  No way am I calling Michael Bennet (0+ / 0-)

    He's not only the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign but his wife is a former attorney for the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC). Michael is a lot more informed on this issue (which is mostly just a fringe issue) than I am, if he votes for it that's his decision to make.

    We've got a hard senate campaign in my state, I don't even want anything with the letters XL voted on, the less I hear the better. Obama is correct to push this thing onto the back burner until December.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 05:11:29 AM PDT

    •  So bleeping what? ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i saw an old tree today

      He's not only the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign but his wife is a former attorney for the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC).

      And Ralph Nader was once a DFH yet now look at him.  We've had documented evidence over the past week just how useless the NRDC has become.  Also, too, Bennet used to work for Philip Anschutz.  You know, a very right-wing billionaire.  Google his name sometime.

    •  Sorry to hear you're uninformed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i saw an old tree today

      about this ''fringe issue'' that has been front and center of the debate on climate change and the environment for at least 5 years now.How does Bennet's position on this affect Udall's election?Particularly since Udall is on record as opposing KXL construction often and repeatedly.Perhaps you don't know how Colorado Democrats stand on Keystone so,from the 2014 Colorado Democratic Party Assembly;

      Whereas,Colorado Democrats beleive our leaders must provide for the long-term protection of our people,our communities,nature and our environment,over and above the interests of short- term corporate greedand profit;and
      Whereas,the developement of the Trans Canada (Keystone XL) pipeline, to transport through the United States,for overseas profit,Alberta tar sands (an energy intensive source for crude oil and generator of increased levels of CO2) threatens our environment and climate and flies in the face of US traties with Native Americans in this country,without substantially increasing full time jobs or energy resources for our own nation;and
      Whereas,there continue to be a number of high profile spills of crude oil in transit that occur on a regular basis and Tar Sands oil is more toxic and harder to clean up than standard crude oil,due to its density and the chemical additives necessary for its transport;and
      Whereas,the industry has not demonstrated the knowledge and skills to clean up tar sands spills (as has been proven by recent oil spills in several different states around the country);
      Therefore,the members of the Coloraado Democratic Party call for the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress to prohibit development of the Keystone XL pipeline.
      Adopted unanimously by the Colorado Democratic Party Assembly,4/12/14.
      Obama may be giving cover to red state ,blue dog Dem's like Pryor and Landrieu,but that's not the case in Colorado,the cat's out of the bag here, so there's no need to mince words on an issue that is more than ''fringe'' to most Colorado Democrats.
      Some of us think a Party Platform is what we believe in and run on,we'll call Bennett whether you do or not.

      'The tyranny of the ignoramuses is absolute and inescapable' A..Einstein

      by unfangus on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 08:17:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I might be uninformed but so are most other Dems (0+ / 0-)

        by two to one margins

        I'm not sure if the two to one for/against holds true for CO Dems, (but I sure bet it does seeing as we get our gasoline from oil from Canada) I do know that I didn't bother going to the state assembly.

        KXL is something for the fringe left to chew over and get all worked up about, end of the day the carbon is negligible if any compared to things like the Supreme Court Decision today.

        Certainly not worth losing a senate seat over.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 08:38:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  correction 5/4 Dems support/appose 2/1 is Indies (0+ / 0-)

          which are more than any party in CO.

          “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

          by ban nock on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 08:41:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Since you 'didn't bother' (0+ / 0-)

          to participate in Democratic party activities,I find your concern about election outcomes somewhat disingenuous,but you might want to rethink calling the State Assembly the ''fringe left''.
          When president Obama rejects the keystone pipeline,it not only will severely reduce the total amount of tar sands bitumen extracted from Alberta and burned anywhere in the world (Colorado or [far more likely] China,it doesn't fucking matter) but will send a clear signal that the US is really going to address climate change and pursue a green energy course.This is a global game changer!The symbolism is exponentially more important than keeping millions of barrels of the dirtiest most energy intensive to produce crap crude out of production,given how important that is.
          Even if you are truly concerned Michael Bennetts' vote on a non binding Senate resolution might negatively impact Mark Udalls senate election,this Pew poll doesn't seem to me a reason to oppose what Colorado Democrats are in favor of.I think it more likely that you simply are a fossil fuel supporter.

          'The tyranny of the ignoramuses is absolute and inescapable' A..Einstein

          by unfangus on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 09:29:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Some red state Senators need this vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    Mary Landrieu, for example, is running as someone who (1) is now in a position of power regarding the energy industry as chairman of the Energy Committee; and (2) as someone who will "stand up" to the President and Senator Reid when it is in the best interest of the people of Louisiana.  

    She really, really needs this vote to make her case for re-election in this very very energy dependent state (a huge portion of the decent-paying jobs here, especially for people without a college degree, are related to the energy industry).  

    If Mary looks feckless on energy policy -- like she can't get anything done if the President and Senator Reid don't want it -- she'll loose.  

    At this point, I think that some Democrats may be willing to trade this vote on Keystone for the potential of not losing the Senate this November.  

    •  Have the vote, just don't make it binding (3+ / 0-)

      Simple enough

      •  I don't think that helps Mary Landrieu (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, nextstep

        Cassidy will paint her as all talk, but unable to get anything done when it comes to energy issues.  He'll say she's unable to stand up to Sen. Reid on energy issues.   He'll say that if we want someone who will support the oil and gas industry, we need a Republican Senate who will really stand up to the President.

        Remember, if Mary is linked to the President and Senator Reid, she goes down in flames.  

        I completely understand that the notion is anathema to many here.  But essentially it is a trade -- trade this vote for potentially keeping the Senate in Democratic hands.  To keep the Senate, Democrats need to make sure that Senators like Mary get re-elected.  

        •  And Cassidy has done what? ... (0+ / 0-)

          is he going to help his state get people on Medicaid, or otherwise get medical help when needed?

          •  Cassidy doesn't need to do anything (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep, VClib

            this election is going to be about Mary (as it always is when Mary runs).  Mary is already running commercials about how she stands up for Louisiana on energy issues, and how she'd going to keep up her pro-energy industry record as chairman of the Energy Committee.  That's her basic justification for getting re-elected.

            This election won't be about Bill Cassidy.  It will be Mary Landrieu versus a Republican.  There's a large group of voters who, while leaning Republican, have been voting for Mary in the past few elections because she's pro-business, pro-energy industry and not too left leaning. Those are the voters who will matter.  There's not nearly enough of a Democratic base in Louisiana to elect Mary if those are all the votes she gets. The Medicaid issue is only going to matter to the 30% or so of Louisianians who already are in the solid Democratic base.  

    •  I will $upport Dem Senators in tough races (0+ / 0-)

      with the exception of Mary Landrieu.  Her position as Energy chair makes her more dangerous than a junior Republican, as long as we hold the Senate.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 03:18:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damn my Senator Bill Nelson... (3+ / 0-)

    pisses me off so bad.  The big energy owns and operates him against the best interests of Floridians and Americans.  I'm writing him a letter today and calling his office this afternoon--although a lot of good it will do since my free speech ($) is so much harder to come by than big oils.

    The most un-convincable man is the one whose paycheck depends on remaining unconvinced. -- H. L. Mencken

    by kharma on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 06:53:34 AM PDT

  •  I'm getting really PO'd at Chris Coons (3+ / 0-)

    It seems every other day I'm reading or seeing some position/vote he's taken thats not only at odds with the Democratic base but also has no business coming from a Senator representing a state Obama won by 20+ pts in two elections.

    Whether its Debo Adegbile, Syria & Ukraine hawkishness, Iran Sanctions, or Keystone...the guy is revealing himself to be crummy D considering the state he represents.

  •  Why Landrieu should be allowed to lose. (2+ / 0-)

    This is a good example of how a fossil fuel Democrat with a powerful position (like chair of the Senate Energy Committee) can do more damage than another freshman Republican.

    Too much is at stake with climate change. We're beyond the point when we should tolerate Democrats who aren't serious about taking action.

  •  You realize, of course, that this cannot be true. (1+ / 0-)

    All the bad things that happen happen solely because Republicans which happen solely solely because the left criticizes Blue dogs and other conservadems. Conservadems cannot possibly ever be part of the problem, they are the solution.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 08:53:47 AM PDT

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