Landrieu Claims to Have the 60 Senate Votes Needed to Pass Keystone Project

Keystone-PipelineLouisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu says she has the 60 votes she needs for the Senate to advance a measure Tuesday that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Landrieu has been scrambling to attract at least 15 Democrats to join 45 Republicans to reach the critical 60-vote procedural threshold. She told reporters at the Capitol on Monday night that she’d reached that mark.

“I feel very comfortable,” Landrieu said.

At least 14 Democrats have said they will support the measure. But it’s not clear who has agreed to provide the final vote or whether Landrieu’s comments simply reflect optimism.

One of Landrieu’s top targets, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said it won’t be him. Another target, Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he is leaning against supporting the bill.

If she can shepherd the legislation through the Senate, it would allow Landrieu to demonstrate her influence one last time ahead of a Dec. 6 run-off election in Louisiana, where she faces Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who sponsored the bill authorizing the pipeline when the House approved it on Friday.

If the Senate ultimately passes the Keystone bill, a confrontation could emerge between Congress and President Barack Obama. The president said at a news conference late last week that he doesn’t want Congress to intervene in the State Department’s long-running consideration of the project and offered his most specific critique of it yet.

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices,” Obama said at a Friday news conference in Myanmar.

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