Without issuing a formal veto threat, the White House is making it clear that if Congress passes a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama will veto it.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters,
Julie, as it relates to the Keystone pipeline, as you know, this is a project that is continuing to be subjected to a review that’s conducted by the State Department. That’s consistent with past practice on projects like this.
The President, as you’ll recall in a speech that he delivered last summer, indicated that one of the factors in that review should be the degree to which a project like this would substantially contribute to the causes of climate change. So this is a project that is still under review by the State Department to determine whether or not it’s in the national interest.
But there have been previous proposals that I expect would be consistent with proposals that have been discussed overnight. And in evaluating those earlier proposals, we have indicated that the President’s senior advisors at the White House would recommend that he veto legislation like that. But we’ll — and that does continue to be our position.
In an overt bid to save Mary Landrieu’s Senate seat, Democrats announced that they would be holding a vote to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline next week. The reversal on Keystone was clearly an attempt by Democrats to replicate their failed midterm election strategy of moving to the right in order to save a red state Democrat.
A vote that senators may have considered a throwaway looked entirely different to their supporters. After months of Democratic candidates running away from the president and his achievements, the last thing that Democrats wanted to see was a betrayal of years long opposition to Keystone XL to try to save a Senate seat in a very red state.
President Obama is not buying into the cynical election year mentality. The president is going to continue to stand up for the things that he believes. Obama knows that the power to approve the pipeline constitutionally belongs to the Executive Branch. He is not about to let Congress hijack his executive powers in a shortsighted move to save a Senate seat.
If the Keystone XL construction bill passed and were signed by the president, Democrats would be giving Big Oil a non-job creating, gas price raising gift that is an accident waiting to happen. This isn’t what the Democratic Party is supposed to be about.
Senate Democrats are still running scared, but President Obama continues to stand tall.