West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin isn’t the typical progressive socialist Democrat that we see in the party these days. He is more of a throwback to the old-school moderate Democrats that used to make up the party.
Although he lost some of his ‘conservative’ bonafides for sponsoring and supporting the big gun control bill that failed in 2013, he regained some support by being critical of Obamacare and asking for delays on some of the more onerous measures of the law.
One subject that Manchin has been moderate on is energy production, which he supports. He comes from coal country in West Virginia, and has been critical of President Obama’s misguided energy agenda which has resulted in lost jobs from closing coal plants and mines.
Manchin has also been a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would quickly and efficiently transport large quantities of oil from Canada down to oil refineries on the Gulf coast of the United States. He is now suggesting that there may be enough Democrats that are ready to vote for a measure approving the pipeline, possibly even a veto-proof majority. (H/T Fox News)
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., noting that 62 senators voted in favor of a Keystone measure last year, said: “I still think that vote is there. I really do.”
Manchin discussed the prospects just days after his Senate colleagues introduced a bill to build the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. The difference between the measure approved last year and this one is that last year’s was a nonbinding resolution with no real teeth to it.
The new Senate bill would require approval of Keystone. Getting a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority on board with such a bill is a heavier lift for sponsors.
Manchin also more or less admitted that the pipeline project has been delayed by the White House due to pressure from a vocal minority of environmentalists.
“We don’t want to usurp anyone’s power, but if it gives the White House some protection from the environmental community coming after them, sooner or later you’ve got to give to the will of the people,” Manchin said.
There is a bipartisan push for a bill that would compel the White House and State Department to approve the pipeline after a decision was delayed again, this time until after the midterm elections.
The proposed pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the United States, where it eventually would reach Gulf Coast refineries. Supporters say it would create thousands of jobs and help the United States get closer to a goal of energy independence. Opponents include environmentalists who say the project wouldn’t create much permanent employment once it was finished, and say it would reinforce the nation’s use of an energy source that worsens climate change.
After the Senate legislation to approve the project was introduced last week, sponsors said they were still short of the 60 votes needed to pass it. Sens. John Hoeven. R-N.D., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the legislation has the support of 11 Democrats and all 45 of the Senate’s Republicans, a total of 56 of the 60 that will be needed.
“A vote on the bill is expected in the coming days,” they added.
Obvious targets for gaining support for the bill include all of the Democrats that voted for previous measures, and those that are in tough reelection battles in red states.
While Landrieu and Hoeven push their proposal, some Republicans say the vote should occur on an amendment to energy efficiency legislation that is expected to reach the Senate floor in the next few days. That would present Obama with a more complicated choice, since large numbers of lawmakers in both parties are likely to favor the broader measure.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said a vote on a free-standing bill that deals only with the pipeline is insufficient “because it will never see the light of day. The president’s not going to sign it.”
Manchin also dismissed claims that the pipeline project is being held up solely by the State Department.
“This is coming strictly from the White House,” he said. “That’s where it lies. If we had the green light from the White House, this would happen.”
This is good news for supporters of the Keystone pipeline. Hopefully, enough Democrats will join in supporting the bill, and the project can finally get underway. With more that 3/4 of Americans supporting more domestic drilling, it is obvious that a vast majority of people want and need the Canadian oil that the Keystone pipeline would carry.
There are a number of reasons why we need to build the pipeline. It is a safer method of transporting large quantities of oil, which is shipped by rail or truck now. It puts the US a step closer to energy independence by obtaining oil from our northern neighbor, instead of countries overseas that hate us. It will also provide jobs to our economy and increase the supply of oil, which will bring down energy prices. Finally, if we don’t build the pipeline and get that oil from Canada, then they will just sell it to the Chinese, giving them an advantage over us in the energy sector.