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Mary Landrieu says the votes are there for Senate passage of Keystone pipeline bill

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says the Senate will pass legislation Tuesday to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, as there are now at least 15 Democratic or Independent senators who will support the bill.

After years of being blocked by Democratic leaders, the Keystone bill came up suddenly in the Senate last week in a last-ditch effort to save Landrieu's Senate seat.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 8.41.03 AM Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says the Senate will pass a bill approving the Keystone pipeline, as at least 15 Democrats or Independents will support it.
Image: AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

Landrieu asked for a vote, and no Democrat objected, a move that opens the door to having Congress override the Obama administration's long delays in approving the project. But a condition of the vote is that 60 senators must support it.

Assuming all 45 Republicans support the bill, that means 15 Democrats or Independents are needed to pass it.

Landrieu told reporters late Monday that she thinks she now has those 15 votes from her side of the aisle. CBS News reported late Monday that Landrieu thinks there are at least 60 "yes" votes, and that there might even be more.

"I feel very comfortable," she said, according to CNN.

Most of the 15 Democrats had already indicated their support for Keystone. A bipartisan bill approving the project was introduced in May that had the support of Landrieu and 10 other Democrats.

According to The Hill, Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) will also vote yes, and supporters were targeting Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) as other possible yes votes. But while Landrieu said she's "comfortable," most vote counters still had just 59 votes, and it wasn't clear who would deliver the last vote.

While Congress may be on the verge of passing the Keystone bill, it's not clear that passage would save Landrieu's seat. She still trails Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in the early December runoff election.

Many Republicans have criticized Senate Democrats for flip-flopping on the vote, which they are doing only to give Landrieu a chance to look good for voters. Many Democrats are also grumbling about the vote, and on Monday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said the vote is essentially letting Landrieu tell voters that she wants to pass a bill that Republicans want — Maddow said it's an "insane way" to try to get re-elected.

The Senate vote is scheduled for Tuesday in the early evening. If the bill passes, it will pose a test for the Obama administration, which has opposed the Keystone pipeline.

President Barack Obama has not said whether he would veto the bill, but last week, he hinted that a veto could happen. House has already approved the identical Keystone bill last week, with the help of 31 Democrats.

One last thing…
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