Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If the Senate Takes a Vote on Keystone XL, Whose Votes Have to Be Flipped?

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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