The contours of the first fight between President Barack Obama and Republicans were set within hours of the new Congress being gaveled into session.
Republicans, including Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, moved forward with plans to advance legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline — and the White House vowed to veto the measure.
“We urge the president to reconsider his threat to veto the bipartisan, job-creating Keystone XL pipeline and to finally take the opportunity to work with Congress to find solutions the American people want,” the Georgia senators, who co-sponsored the legislation, said in a joint statement.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Kentucky lawmaker who is the new Senate majority leader, said Wednesday from the Senate floor that Obama’s veto threat just after the new Congress convened “is anything but productive.”
Perdue and Isakson say the pipeline will secure America’s energy future, improve national defense and create tens of thousands of jobs for Americans.
The project is fiercely opposed by environmentalists, but it has the support of more than enough energy-state and other Democrats to overcome any filibuster in the Senate. An identical bill passed the House last year with support from 31 Democrats.
The 1,179-mile project is proposed to go from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.