Tag Archives: veto

To be decided on Election Day in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Democrats are hoping to keep a presidential winning streak alive and avenge a loss that sent a former longtime senator packing six years ago.

Republicans hope to make Donald Trump the first GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan to win in Wisconsin and are working to send Sen. Ron Johnson back to the Senate in his rematch against former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

The presidential and Senate races topped Wisconsin’s ballot Tuesday. Here’s a look at those and other issues on the ballot:

TRUMP VS. CLINTON

Democrats were optimistic that Hillary Clinton would extend their winning streak to eight straight presidential elections. Clinton appeared confident, not campaigning in Wisconsin since losing the Democratic primary in April to Bernie Sanders. She did send running mate Tim Kaine, Sanders and other surrogates to Wisconsin, while Trump personally campaigned despite lukewarm support from high-ranking state officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled a Trump appearance with him in October and said he would not campaign or defend him, causing a rift in the party. But Ryan did campaign days before the election with Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

SENATE REMATCH

It’s 2010 all over again in the U.S. Senate race. This time, Johnson is the incumbent and Feingold is the challenger. When Johnson beat Feingold six years ago, he ended Feingold’s 18-year career in the Senate. Johnson argues that having been fired once by voters, Feingold does not deserve to be sent back. But Feingold, who is counting on high Democratic turnout for the presidential race, says Johnson has not led on the issues Wisconsin voters care about and should not be given a second term.

CONGRESS

The 8th Congressional District in northeast Wisconsin is the only one in the state this year with an open seat. Republican Rep. Reid Ribble is retiring after three terms. Republican Mike Gallagher, a former Marine who helped advise Gov. Scott Walker on national security during his brief presidential bid, is running his first race. He’s challenged by Tom Nelson, the Democratic Outagamie County executive and former state representative. It’s the only congressional race with any intrigue this year. Ryan, who represents the 1st District in southeastern Wisconsin, faces nominal opposition. Ryan had more than 1,100-times more money than his Democratic challenger, Ryan Solen, heading into the election — $9.9 million to $8,500.

STATEHOUSE

Even Democrats don’t think they can win majority control of the state Assembly, where Republicans have a 63-36 majority. Democrats were more hopeful in the Senate, where the Republican majority is a tighter 19-14. Either way, the Republican Walker remains as governor and has broad veto authority.

VOTING

This is the first presidential election where Wisconsin voters are required to show photo identification to cast a ballot. Those who don’t have an acceptable ID on Tuesday can cast a provisional ballot, but they then must take additional steps to get credentials for that ballot to count. Any outstanding absentee ballots must be returned by Tuesday. In previous elections they could be postmarked by Tuesday and counted as long as they were received by Friday. Polls are open statewide 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting turnout broke the previous record set in 2012, and overall turnout was predicted to be near 70 percent.

Oklahoma senator mulls overriding governor’s abortion veto

The Oklahoma Republican state senator who authored a bill that would effectively outlaw abortion in the state said Saturday that he hasn’t decided whether he’ll try to override the governor’s veto.

“I have not made a decision,” Sen. Nathan Dahm, of Broken Arrow, told The Associated Press. “That’s what we’re pursuing, what we’d like to see accomplished.”

He said he’ll decide during the coming week whether to pursue an attempt — the same week that the Legislature faces a deadline to adjourn while grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system. They’ve yet to be presented with a proposed state budget.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed the bill Friday, saying that while she opposes abortion, it was vague and would not withstand a legal challenge.

The measure would have made it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for anyone who performs an abortion, including doctors. State law already makes it a felony for anyone who’s not a doctor to perform an abortion, and Dahm’s bill would have removed the exemption for physicians.

Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Fallin, said the governor has not been notified of a veto override attempt.

“It’s a legislative decision. Obviously she would like it to be supported, but it’s up to the Legislature at this point,” McNutt said.

The Senate voted 33-12 for the bill on Thursday, one vote more than needed to override in the Senate and send it to the House.

Dahm noted that it could be difficult for those who voted for the legislation to vote for an override.

“Sometimes people, even if they voted for the bill, are hesitant to vote to override the governor’s veto because of their concern about the governor being petty and vindictive and vetoing some of their legislation,” Dahm said.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, who voted for the bill, said Friday that he supported it because it’s an anti-abortion measure, but was noncommittal whether he would vote for a veto override.

“We’re working with the governor on the budget, so there’s got to be some strategy involved there,” Bingman said. “I want to support the governor as much as I can. At the same time, I want to support our members, so I’ll have to think on that.”

GOP bill to repeal health care law pointless political theater, say Dems

The GOP-led Congress sent legislation to President Barack Obama on Jan. 6 repealing his signature health law, fulfilling a promise to Republican voters in a presidential election year but inviting a certain veto.

The nearly party-line vote in the House was 240-181. The legislation had already passed the Senate last year under special rules protecting it from Democratic obstruction, so it goes straight to the White House.

Republicans boasted of a signal achievement, saying they were forcing Obama to face up to the failures of his law while illustrating the stark political choices voters face.

“We are confronting the president with the hard, honest truth,” said Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. “Obamacare doesn’t work.”

Democrats called it pointless political theater that will have the same ultimate outcome as the 61 previous repeal votes that were blocked in the Senate, since Obama will veto the legislation.

“A bill that is going to the White House, that will get the fastest veto we’ve ever seen happen in this country, is a monumental vote?” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “This is just a waste of everyone’s time.”

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has decried the repeal legislation while leading GOP candidates applauded it. Ryan and other GOP leaders acknowledged it will take a Republican president to get rid of the law. But they said that is the point.

“It is our opportunity as Republicans to lay out the choice for the American people,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California predicted that a Republican president will be in the White House next year and Congress will pass the repeal legislation again, “but we won’t have to worry about a veto from the White House.”

For maximum visibility Republican leaders made the legislation, which also cuts federal funding for Planned Parenthood, their first major vote of 2016. Although they don’t command sufficient votes to override a presidential veto, they hope to schedule the override vote to coincide with the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Yet Ryan hedged when asked whether the House will ever vote on a GOP replacement to Obamacare. Ryan has pledged that the House will come up with its own plan this year, something the GOP has repeatedly promised but failed to do in the nearly six years since the law’s enactment. But he said details such as whether this plan will actually come to a vote have not been determined.

“Nothing’s been decided yet,” Ryan said. “Just wait.”

Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the repeal bill: Reps. Robert Dold of Illinois, and Richard Hanna and John Katko of New York. One Democrat voted for it: Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

The bill would dismantle the health law’s key pillars, including requirements that most people obtain coverage and larger employers offer it to workers.

It would eliminate the expansion of Medicaid coverage to additional lower-income people and the government’s subsidies for many who buy policies on newly created insurance marketplaces. And it would end taxes the law imposed to cover its costs.

More than 16 million Americans have gained health coverage since the law was enacted, according to government figures. They could risk losing it under the GOP approach. Republicans argue the health law has driven up costs and hurt consumers, and they promise “patient-centered” solutions in its place.

The bill would also terminate the roughly $450 million yearly in federal dollars that go to Planned Parenthood, about a third of its budget. A perennial target of conservatives, the group came under intensified GOP pressure last year over providing fetal tissue for research.

Planned Parenthood officials and Democratic lawmakers accused Republicans in floor debate of attacking women’s health. Republicans, in turn, took to the floor to critique Planned Parenthood in graphic terms, accusing the group of killing babies.

Health care repeal vote to open a political year in Congress

It’s been like a long-delayed New Year’s resolution for Republicans. But 2016 will be the year when they put legislation on President Barack Obama’s desk calling for the repeal of his health care law.

The president, of course, will veto the measure.

The bill undoing the president’s prized overhaul will be the first order of business when the House reconvenes this coming week, marking a sharply partisan start on Capitol Hill to a congressional year in which legislating may take a back seat to politics.

There are few areas of potential compromise between Obama and the GOP majority in the House and Senate in this election year, but plenty of opportunities for political haymaking during the presidential campaign season.

Obama will veto the health law repeal bill, which also would cut money for Planned Parenthood. The measure already has passed the Senate under special rules protecting it from Democratic obstruction. But that’s the point for Republicans, who intend to schedule a veto override vote for Jan. 22, when anti-abortion activists hold their annual march in Washington to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in 1973 that legalized abortion.

Despite dozens of past votes to repeal the health law in full or in part, Republicans never before have succeeded in sending a full repeal bill to the White House. They insist that doing so will fulfill promises to their constituents while highlighting the clear choice facing voters in the November presidential election.

Every Republican candidate has pledged to undo the health law. The Democrats running for president would keep it in place.

“You’re going to see us put a bill on the president’s desk going after Obamacare and Planned Parenthood so we’ll finally get a bill on his desk to veto,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told conservative talk host Bill Bennett over the holidays.

“Then you’re going to see the House Republican Conference, working with our senators, coming out with a bold agenda that we’re going to lay out for the country, to say how we would do things very differently,” Ryan said.

In the Senate, which reconvenes Jan. 11, a week later than the House, early action will include a vote on a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who is running for president, for an “audit” of the Federal Reserve. Democrats are likely to block it. But, like the health repeal bill in the House, the vote will answer conservative demands in an election year.

Also expected early in the Senate’s year is legislation dealing with Syrian refugees, following House passage of a bill clamping down on the refugee program. Conservatives were angry when the year ended without the bill advancing. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky promised a vote, though without specifying whether it would be the House bill or something else.

The House Benghazi committee will continue its investigation of the attacks that killed four Americans in Libya in 2012, with an interview of former CIA Director David Petraeus on Jan. 6. That comes amid new Democratic accusations of political motives aimed at Hillary Clinton after the committee chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. for president. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi attacks.

The agenda promised by Ryan after succeeding former Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker last fall will begin to take shape at a House-Senate GOP retreat this month in Baltimore. Thus far Ryan has pledged efforts to overhaul the tax system and offer a Republican alternative to the health overhaul.

In the Senate, McConnell’s primary focus is protecting the handful of vulnerable Republican senators whose seats are at risk as Democrats fight to regain the Senate majority they lost a year ago. That means weighing the political risks and benefits of every potential vote to endangered incumbents in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

That could determine whether McConnell allows criminal justice overhaul legislation _ the one issue cited by Obama and lawmakers of both parties as ripe for compromise _ to come to the floor.

McConnell already has suggested that prospects for approval of Obama’s long-sought Asia trade pact are dim, and the senator has ruled out major tax overhaul legislation as long as Obama is president.

McConnell could try to put his thumb on the scales of the presidential race with two GOP senators having emerged as leading contenders.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been a thorn in McConnell’s side, once calling the GOP leader a liar, and has frosty relations with his fellow senators. Rubio is on good terms with fellow lawmakers and has been endorsed by several of them. McConnell could schedule debate on an issue with the potential to favor Rubio politically over Cruz, such as National Security Agency wiretapping authority.

But McConnell insists he is staying out of it.

“We all have a big stake in having a nominee for president who can win, and that means carrying purple states, and I’m sure pulling for a nominee who can do that,” McConnell told The Associated Press, refusing to elaborate on who might fit that description.

Obama vetoes anti-climate change measures passed by Congress

President Barack Obama has vetoed two measures that would have blocked steps that his administration is taking to address climate change.

One would have nullified carbon pollution standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The second would have voided a set of national standards designed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution from existing power plants.

In a letter notifying Congress of his decision, Obama says climate change is a “profound threat” that must be addressed.

Some Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates scoff at the climate science.

Obama has made addressing climate change a priority. He recently praised a new international climate agreement reached at a Paris conference and credited his administration as being a driving force behind the deal.

He rejected the measures through a rare “pocket veto,” intended for use when Congress has adjourned, as it did Friday for the year. A pocket vote essentially takes effect when the president fails to sign a bill within 10 days.

Still at it | Republicans advance latest bill to unravel Affordable Care Act

Last week, House Republicans advanced legislation to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health law — legislation that could actually reach the president’s desk for a certain veto. The House GOP has voted more than 50 times to repeal all or parts of the health law. Almost all the bills died in the Senate.

Democrats note that official congressional estimates say that gutting the law will result in 15 million fewer people with health insurance by 2025.

For this effort, Republicans are using a special process that prevents Senate Democrats from blocking the legislation. Obama will still veto it, but the vote could provide a blueprint for dismantling the law if Republicans retake the White House in 2016.

Under Senate rules, minority Democrats can block most legislation because it requires 60 votes to advance a bill, and Republicans have only 54 senators. Under the special process, called reconciliation, the Senate can pass legislation with just 51 votes.

Reconciliation is limited to certain tax and spending measures, so Republicans can’t use it to repeal the entire health law. But they can gut it.

Republicans say they are working to repeal the most unpopular parts of the law, which was enacted in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

Democrats note that official congressional estimates say that gutting the law will result in 15 million fewer people with health insurance by 2025.

“We’re going to repeal the five worst parts of the law: two mandates, two taxes and one board of bureaucrats,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan said he would like to repeal the entire law. But added, “This is our best shot at getting a bill on the president’s desk.”

The Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines to repeal two mandates — that most Americans get health insurance and that large companies provide health benefits to workers.

The legislation would repeal a tax on higher-priced health plans and a tax on medical devices.

The vote was 23–14, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.

“Today’s markup is not a serious exercise in legislating,” said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. “Everyone knows the president won’t sign this reconciliation bill.”

“That may be one of the motivations for this bill — pure politics to send a bill to the president that he is sure to veto and be upheld,” Levin added.

Two other House committees are working on legislation to repeal other parts of the health law, as well as to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Eventually, the legislation would be combined and sent to the full House.

GOP ignores real issues to energize extremist base

Republicans hope to energize their evangelical base by shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood.

A band of congressional Republicans won’t back legislation financing government agencies unless the bill blocks federal payments to Planned Parenthood. A partial shutdown will occur on Oct. 1 unless federal lawmakers provide money to keep government functioning. With time running out, GOP leaders haven’t said how they’ll handle conservatives’ demands while also rounding up enough votes to prevent a shutdown.

The obstructionist Republicans hope a showy stunt of shutting down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding will energize their evangelical Christian base ahead of the 2016 elections. They oppose PP because a small fraction — about 3 percent — of the group’s services include helping women to end unwanted pregnancies. They overlook the fact that the group provides many vital health services to both men and women that they might not otherwise be able to access, including cancer screenings, STD testing, pre-natal care and family planning, 

Federal law prevents PP from spending any of its federal money on providing abortions.

Republicans became incensed this summer when an anti-choice group released secretly recorded videos in which PP officials offhandedly discuss how they sometimes provide tissue from aborted fetuses for critical medical research. It has since been revealed that the videos were deceptively edited to horrify viewers. Several state-level investigations of PP by Republican governors have found that PP has engaged in no wrongdoing.

But that hasn’t stopped PP opponents from using the issue to manufacture a frenzy.

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina marred what was otherwise a stellar debate performance on Sept. 16 by tearing up while blatantly lying about the content on the videos. 

Ted Cruz appears intent on shutting down the government over PP funding to best Mike Huckabee as the consummate champion of evangelical Christianity. Cruz lost the last round of the joust, when Huckabee’s bodyguards kept him from mounting the dais to be seen at the side of anti-gay Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis after she was released from jail. Cruz was eager to get in front of news cameras recording Davis’ Evita moment, but instead he was broadcast being blocked from access by a much smaller Huckabee operative.

The House already has passed a bill that would block PP’s federal funding for a year, but Senate Democrats have enough votes to block it in their chambers. Even if they didn’t, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it and Republicans lack the votes to override his veto.

House Speaker John Boehner staged the defunding vote to placate his party’s PP critics and give them a chance to go on the record with their opposition. Since they’ve already gotten attention for their stance, the motive behind shutting down the government is puzzling. The action will only hurt Republicans with moderate and independent voters, just as similar efforts have in the past.

A significant majority of Republicans would support Boehner if he presses for a temporary funding bill disentangled from the dispute over PP. But a few dozen extremist Republicans have vowed to oppose any such effort and some are weighing a challenge to Boehner’s leadership.

The reckless, pointless effort to shut down the government dramatizes how useless Congress has become in general and Republican members in particular. They routinely distract the public with empty gestures like this one to pander to their base while neglecting real issues.

Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill

President Barack Obama has vetoed the Keystone XL oil pipeline bill. The veto is the third of Obama’s presidency.

The White House notified the U.S. Senate of the presidential action mid-day on Feb. 24.

Passage of a pipeline bill was a top priority for Republicans in the House and Senate.

Lawmakers may try to override the veto, but the bill did not pass with the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers.

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said on Feb. 24, “This misguided Keystone XL bill, pushed by the fossil fuel industry, has met its just and expected doom. The president got it exactly right by vetoing it. Congress should stop wasting any more time pushing dirty energy projects that would worsen climate change and threaten our air, water and land.”

Suh encouraged the president to now “reject the proposed tar sands pipeline once and for all. It is simply not in the national interest.”

Greenpeace US’s executive director, Annie Leonard, said, “In vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama is showing that he’s listened to the people, not the polluters. Just this week we’ve seen corporate interests exposed for spending over $1 million on the science of climate denial. Enough is enough. The State Department needs to put the final nail in the coffin of Keystone XL, so we can focus on the real opportunity ahead: building America’s new, clean energy economy.”

And, from Stephen Kretzmann of Oil Change International, there was this statement: “The President’s veto of the KXL tar sands pipeline bill was fully expected but is very much appreciated. Fossil fuel funded politicians in Congress should take note — when the president of the United States says he is going to do something, he follows through. Because the president has also been clear that if the pipeline caused a significant increase in carbon emissions, it would not be found in the national interest, we look forward to his final rejection of this dirty and dangerous pipeline.”

At 350.org, executive director May Boeve said, “This veto is conclusive proof that activism works. After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil. As the president himself has argued, Keystone XL would worsen climate change, threaten the safety of farmers and landowners in America’s heartland, and create essentially no long-term jobs — all so a Canadian oil company gets to ship dirty tar sands to the rest of the world. Now, it’s time for the president to show he’s serious about his climate legacy by moving on to step two: rejecting this pipeline once and for all.”

Editor’s note: This story will be update.

Obama: Critics of immigration reform ignore ‘human consequences’

President Barack Obama is accusing opponents of his immigration action of failing to think about the “human consequences.”

The president spoke during an Oval Office meeting this week with six young immigrants who would be subject to eventual deportation under a bill passed by the House. The legislation would overturn Obama’s executive actions limiting deportations for millions here illegally and giving them the ability to work.

Obama repeated his threat to veto the legislation and says he is confident he could uphold a veto over any attempts to override it.

Obama says the debate has become an “abstraction” and the so-called “Dreamers” he met with “represent the best that this country has to offer.” He says the House bill would see them deported, and he thinks that’s wrong.

Senate votes to approve KXL oil pipeline

The U.S. Senate on Jan. 29 voted to approve legislation to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The vote was 62-36. Nine Democrats voted with 53 Republicans for the measure.

A bill to build the pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico, already has passed the U.S. House.

The Senate vote was not high enough to override a veto, and the House and Senate bills must be reconciled before legislation reaches President Barack Obama.

Danielle Droitsch, director of the Canada Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that if a bill reaches the White House, “It will draw a richly deserved presidential veto: Congress is not a permitting authority. The president should follow up his veto by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a pipeline that would worsen climate change and threaten U.S. waters, largely to enable the export of oil to other countries.”

After the November midterm, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had said passing the pipeline bill was the GOP’s top priority.

Proponents say the pipeline will generate jobs. McConnell, according to the Associated Press, said, “We are hoping the president upon reflection will agree to sign on to a bill that the State Department said could create up to 42,000 jobs and the State Department said creates little to no impact on the environment.”

Opponents say the pipeline puts the environment at risk, continues a dangerous national reliance on fossil fuels and will not create longterm jobs.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said on Jan. 29 in a stateent, “Putting the agenda of polluters ahead of the American public is bad policy and it’s bad politics. Remember when Senate Republicans thought moving forward with Keystone XL first would help them score political points? Now, they’ve managed to waste weeks of the American people’s time floundering around on a bill that the White House has indicated will be vetoed and they’ve gone on the record against broadly popular policies like protecting our drinking water, supporting wind jobs, and forcing the Koch Brothers to disclose their political spending.”

He continued, “I don’t think that’s the message Mitch McConnell and his colleagues wanted to send to the public — but, for Senate Republicans, it’s the cost of doing business with big polluting campaign donors.”

Droitsch said, “The only positive aspect of this debate has been that some amendments did put senators on the record on issues that truly matter — starting with climate change. Five Republican senators broke with their leadership to acknowledge that man-made climate change is happening and is a threat to public health and our environment. Now those senators, and their Republican colleagues, need to agree to do something about the problem instead of simply opposing the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.”

More reaction from the progressive community: 

350.org executive director May Boeve: “Given the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on our political system, it’s no longer even surprising that this Congress has made it their number one priority to try and force approval of an oil pipeline, instead of addressing the wide range of real issues confronting American families. But thankfully, this vote is a farce—because Keystone XL is a decision for President Obama, not the Climate Denial Congress. As the President himself has pointed out, Keystone would worsen climate change, threaten the livelihood of tribes and landowners along the route, and create essentially no long-term jobs—all so a Canadian company gets to ship dirty oil to the rest of the world. That’s why we’re looking to the President to follow through on his word, veto this bill, and then reject the permit application for this pipeline for good.”

Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity: “The new congressional majority simply doesn’t get that climate change is happening now, that handing our lands over to foreign corporations is wrong, and that clean water and healthy wildlife are more important than a pipeline full of super dirty oil that we don’t even need. President Obama needs to veto this sham immediately.”

Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International: “The Senate has voted to approve Keystone XL, and has chosen to once again side with Big Oil’s money over our climate and our future. In other news, the sun will set in the west this evening. We look forward to the President’s veto of this bill, and his ultimate rejection of the permit for this dangerous tar sands pipeline.”

Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at CREDO: “The Republican’s Keystone XL obsession is about one thing and one thing only – a direct payback to Big Oil, specifically to the Koch brothers who likely spent more than anyone else to elect the Republican Senate, and also happen to be the largest non-Canadian leaseholder in the Alberta tar sands. The American people oppose Congress forcing a decision on Keystone XL, and given the actual problems we are facing and the solutions available, the notion that Keystone XL should be the first or highest priority of Congress is literally insulting. As long as they continue their Keystone XL obsession, Republicans are turning their back on the American people.”

Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization: “The Senate’s passage of a bill to force approval of the Keystone pipeline shows that Republicans have prioritized the financial interests of their top donors, particularly Charles and David Koch, who have more acreage in Alberta than Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco combined. Call it the “plutocrats pay-off,” since Koch outspent all other oil companies and individuals to deliver a dozen new Senators from 2014 elections. Now is the time for President Obama to not just veto but also reject the pipeline since it clearly is not in our national interest, whereas Keystone XL’s biggest beneficiaries could be the two billionaire brothers who are a danger to democracy and lead the opposition to climate action.”