President Obama Tuesday vetoed the bipartisan Keystone Jobs bill, marking his first veto of the Republican-led Congress and only the third of his presidency. Since 2010, when the Democrats lost the lower chamber, the president hasn’t had to veto legislation with Sen. Harry Reid refusing to allow a regular order vote on the Senate floor.
But Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats are out, 9 of which joined Republicans in authorizing the construction of the project roughly 70 percent of the American people support. In the House, 28 Democrats voted with the GOP in favor of construction.
“The Presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,” Obama said. “But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto.”
The veto, which the White House said was not based on the merit of the project but rather the fact the Congress tried to circumvent Obama, was met with inevitable criticism from Republicans, but also from several Senate Democrats in numerous House.
“It’s extremely disappointing that President Obama vetoed a bipartisan bill that would support thousands of good jobs and pump billions of dollars into the economy,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. “Even though the President has yielded to powerful special interests, this veto doesn’t end the debate.”
The special interests McConnell is referring to is personified by wealthy hedge manager and left-wing environmentalist Tom Steyer, who Democrats accepted millions of dollars from during the 2014 election cycle. Steyer and other radical environmentalist groups have seemingly ignored the multiple reviews by the State Department and other agencies that found not building the pipeline would have a greater environmental impact than if the resources continue to travel via rail.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the veto a “national embarrassment,” and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., swore that the fight was far from over.
McConnell’s office said the Senate plans to vote on overriding sometime before March 3.
McConnell’s office said the Senate plans to vote on overriding sometime before March 3. The Keystone bill garnered 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.
Because former majority leader Reid was providing political cover for President Obama, the Keystone veto marked only the third of Obama’s presidency, fewer than any U.S. president since the 19th century. With Republicans now in control of both Houses of Congress, leadership says they plan on sending one popular bill after another to his desk to show the American people who had been the obstruction party all along.
First proposed in 2008, the Keystone pipeline would connect Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.
“The bottom line is: How many times have you seen us do something bipartisan,” Sen. Manchin said. “We had 9 Democratic senators join us to do that deal. And it was overwhelming. The Canadians gave us everything we wanted. They agreed to only use American-made steel, and making sure no oil could flow through and be exported out of here. All of our demands were met.”
Manchin also trashed his own party’s argument that holds the construction will only create a handful of permanent jobs.
“Thousands of jobs would have been created,” Manchin added. “I’ve heard all the rumblings about how they are not going to be permanent jobs. But you know what? I haven’t done one infrastructure job or been a part of building a bridge in West Virginia where workers had a permanent job after the bridge was built.”
“I just can’t figure it out.”