Senate Democrats block Keystone XL bill

The legislation that aims to bypass President Barack Obama’s role in deciding whether to allow construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline has hit a roadblock in the U.S. Senate.

That chamber’s minority Democrats filibustered the bill Monday, preventing majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., from moving to a vote on its merits.

Two votes were held in an attempt by McConnell and the Senate’s GOP caucus to obtain cloture, or an end to debate, on S.1. Both failed, with only 53 senators voting to end debate.

Sixty affirmative votes are needed to obtain cloture.

Among those who voted to move immediately to a vote on the merits of the legislation were four Democrats: Michael F. Bennet of Colorado, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Every Republican senator who was present in the chamber for the cloture votes cast their ballot in favor of ending the filibuster.

The Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives approved a KXL pipeline bill shortly after the commencement of the 114th Congress earlier this month.

President Barack Obama has promised to veto any legislation that interferes with his discretion to grant or withhold the permit needed for the pipeline developer to construct the project across the U.S.-Canada border.

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