March 23, 2019

Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline Bill

Obama_worriedThe White House has notified the Senate that President Obama has vetoed legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.


President Obama, who for six years signed almost every bill that landed on his desk, is preparing to open a new phase of his presidency — the veto — as Congress on Tuesday sent him legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Senate sent the bill to Obama on Tuesday morning.

To date, Obama has issued just two vetoes, fewer than any U.S. president since the 19th century. By contrast, in just one term, President George H.W. Bush issued 44.

But Obama’s sparing use of the veto is expected to change. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president will veto the Keystone legislation later Tuesday, despite it passing with bipartisan support.

And with Republicans now in control of Congress, their efforts to chip away at the president’s health care law and other legislative accomplishments are just as likely to be met with Obama’s veto pen.

The question, for the Keystone and other bills, will be whether House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can muster the votes to override.

In a joint op-ed in USA Today on Tuesday, they accused the president of playing “politics” with his expected Keystone veto.

“The allure of appeasing environmental extremists may be too powerful for the president to ignore. But the president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight,” they wrote. “Far from it. We are just getting started.”

So far, congressional leaders have not demonstrated they have the votes to override, which takes a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

reid_schumerThe Keystone bill got 62 yeas in the Senate, but they would need 67 to override. In the House, the bill got 270 votes — but they would need 281 to override.

It remains unclear whether moderate lawmakers could be swayed to switch in the coming weeks.

To date, Obama rarely has used the veto in part because Democrats for six years controlled at least one chamber in Congress — acting as a buffer to prevent unwanted bills from ever reaching the president’s desk. That buffer is now gone.

A look back at past presidencies, where control of the White House and Congress was split during at least one point, shows a veto bonanza.

In the Clinton presidency, the president issued 37 vetoes in his two terms. President Ronald Reagan issued 78. President George W. Bush issued 12.

Not since the Warren G. Harding administration has the number of vetoes been in the single digits; Harding issued six.

The Keystone bill is as contentious an issue as any for Obama to fire his first veto shot of the new Congress.

First proposed in 2008, the Keystone pipeline would connect Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

The White House has said repeatedly it will wait to make its decision about whether to let the project go forward until after a State Department review. It regards the legislation as circumventing that process.

When the bill reaches the president’s desk, it will start a constitutional 10-day “clock” by which the president must either sign or veto the legislation.

The White House has indicated Obama will quickly veto, without much “drama or fanfare.” / The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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