President Obama promised a Keystone pipeline veto and, according to the Associated Press via Mother Jones, the president kept that promise today by vetoing the Keystone XL Pipeline bill when it landed on his desk.
Earlier today, according to Mother Jones, the White House noted that the president would veto the bill “without drama or fanfare or delay.”
President Obama said, according to Mother Jones, “It has earned my veto,” after referencing that he believes Congress is using the bill as a way to get around precedent and, more specifically, procedural hurdles that are in place to protect the country and the environment.
Mother Jones added the following.
“The president wants the approval process to go through the State Department, which normally has jurisdiction over international infrastructure projects.”
This statement seems to imply that if Congress would allow the State Department to take over jurisdiction of the project instead of trying to pass the Keystone XL bill, the president might just approve the actions needed to move forward on the project.
The controversy over the Keystone XL bill has been years in the making. Although this was the president’s first veto “in the last five years,” according to Mother Jones, it is only the third veto President Obama’s issued during his entire time in office.
Landowners, environmentalists, and other activists have fought TransCanada and the U.S. government for years in an attempt to quash the Keystone XL bill and the project as a whole.
According to the Huffington Post, Nebraskan residents won the most recent fight on February 12 when a judge sided with them and issued an injunction to stop TransCanada from using eminent domain. This prevented TransCanada, at least temporarily, from kicking landowners out of their homes to finish running the pipeline.
In this case, landowners sued the government after a previous administration rewrote Nebraska’s laws to grant itself the authority to approve the pipeline, which it did. If landowners win overall, the law would be repealed and prevent TransCanada against using eminent domain.
Using eminent domain is already questionable since, according to Expert Law, the Fifth Amendment notes that the government must prove that the project for which the government or company is invoking eminent domain is for the public good.
However, TransCanada is not a U.S. based company, not a part of the government, and the pipeline is a for-profit, private endeavor initiated by that foreign company, which leaves eminent domain questionable at best.
Now that President Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline bill, U.S. law requires the president send the bill back to where it originated, according to VoteSmart. They continue, as quoted below.
“The chamber that originated the legislation can attempt to override the veto by a vote of two thirds of those present. If the veto is overridden by both chambers, then the bill becomes law.”
Congress now has to decide whether to attempt to override the president’s veto or not. Though both the Senate and Congress passed the bill with what they claim was bi-partisan support, the fact is that Republicans in both houses are short the votes they need for a supermajority.
Ever since Republicans took control of the Senate and strengthened their majority in Congress in the last election, both houses have been busy attempting to pass legislation they feel is “top priority.” This includes passing the Keystone XL pipeline bill while repealing legislation they don’t like – specifically Obamacare and President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is set to shut down if the Senate doesn’t approve and the president doesn’t sign a funding bill. To date, Senate Democrats have blocked the bill because it would undo all of the president’s executive actions taken on immigration to grant amnesty to certain people in the country illegally.
According to USA Today, a Keystone pipeline veto override vote is coming March 3.