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House, Senate To Vote On Bill Approving Keystone XL Pipeline

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Despite continued opposition from the Obama administration, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are preparing to vote on a bill to authorize construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The Republican-controlled House is scheduled to begin consideration of the bill on Thursday, while the currently Democratic-controlled Senate could vote on the legislation as early as next Tuesday.

While the House has voted several times in recent years to authorize building the pipeline, the legislation has always stalled in the Senate.

Republicans generally support construction of the pipeline, while the issue has divided Democrats amid concerns about the environmental impact and potential oil spills.

The pipeline is projected to ship up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada and Montana to Cushing, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast area.

The project is expected to create about 2,000 jobs during a two-year construction period but only about 50 permanent jobs.

The House bill was introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is facing off against incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., in a runoff election on December 6th.

Meanwhile, Landrieu has helped lead the charge for the legislation in the Senate as part of an effort to distance herself from President Barack Obama.

The bill approving construction of the pipeline is expected to easily pass the House but will need 15 Democrats to join with all 45 Republicans to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate.

Even if the bill passes both Houses of Congress, however, the legislation could still face a veto by President Obama.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted that the administration has taken a dim view of these kinds of legislative proposals in the past.

"I haven't reviewed the specific proposal," Earnest said. "But there have been previous proposals that I expect would be consistent with proposals that have been discussed overnight."

He added, "And in evaluating those earlier proposals, we have indicated that the President's senior advisors at the White House would recommend that he veto legislation like that."

Earnest said the administration believes the review process at the State Department should continue, calling it the proper venue for determining whether the project should move forward.

A veto would likely create another conflict between Obama and the incoming Republican majority in the Senate, who would be expected to continue to push for the pipeline in the next Congress.

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