Senate passes Keystone XL bill

The United States Senate passed a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, multiple sources confirmed Thursday.

The Senate, led by majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), voted 62-36 to pass the bill, which would confirm the construction of the fourth phase of the ongoing Keystone Pipeline project. The new addition would provide a wider and more direct flow of crude oil from a Canadian reserve in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to a junction in Steele City, Nebraska.

Minority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was not present for the vote. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) was also not present for the voting process, according to the Washington Times.

Sen. McConnell addressed his colleagues in the Senate prior to the vote Thursday afternoon, asking them to approve the measure.

“Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy,” said Sen. McConnell. “It would support thousands of good American jobs. And as the president’s own State Department has indicated, it would do this with minimal environmental impact.”

Sen. McConnell’s statement referred to the report released in 2014 by the State Department concluding that construction of the pipeline “would not significantly increase the rate of planet-warming pollution into the atmosphere,” according to the New York Times.

Opponents of the bill claim that the pipeline would only provide a temporary surge in employment. After construction is completed, the number of permanent jobs remaining would be “in the range of 50,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico).

The bill will be returned to the House of Representatives for approval. Although the House previously approved the bill earlier this month, the Senate approved several amendments to the bill, thus requiring the House to either approve the new bill or attempt to merge both versions of the bill, creating a new bill that would then be sent to each chamber for approval as normal.

President Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it is passed by both chambers of Congress.

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