Reid gives GOP ultimatum on Keystone
By Alexander Bolton - 05/06/14 03:22 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday rebuffed Republican demands for votes on amendments to an energy efficiency bill, possibly dooming consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Reid said he would not allow votes on any GOP-sponsored amendments later this week when the Senate considers the energy bill sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio.).
Reid’s decision likely scuttles a vote that was expected on the Keystone XL pipeline unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) capitulates on his demand for votes on GOP sponsored amendments.
Reid had earlier said he would allow a vote on stand-alone legislation to authorize the pipeline in exchange for an agreement from Republicans to allow an up-or-down final vote on Shaheen-Portman.
But Reid on Tuesday said that arrangement was under threat because McConnell (Ky.) was insisting on voting on five GOP-sponsored amendments to the bill.
“If they want to vote on Keystone, they can have a vote on Keystone, but enough is enough,” he told reporters.
Reid said McConnell's protests about the inability to vote on GOP amendments is an effort to obstruct the Democratic agenda.
“What my friend the Republican leader said today is what they’ve said on everything, everything, for years now,” he said.
The Senate voted 79 to 20 earlier in the day to proceed to the energy efficiency bill. Republicans who voted to begin the debate, however, declined to say whether they would allow it to proceed to a final vote unless Democratic leaders agreed to let the chamber vote on GOP-sponsored amendments.
When asked if he would allow any amendments to the bill, Reid said simply “no”.
Instead, Reid said he would allow a vote to authorize the pipeline “a day or two” after passage of Shaheen-Portman.
McConnell complained at an earlier press conference that Reid has allowed votes only on a handful of GOP amendments since July.
He said he wanted votes on amendments to roll back clean air regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency and to approve of liquefied natural gas exports to World Trade Organization member countries, including Ukraine.
The Obama administration is reviewing the proposal to build the Keystone pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. But the clock was stopped on that review last month due to litigation in Nebraska.
Supporters of the pipeline from both parties blasted the delay and began pushing for a vote in the Senate on approving the project.