Despite a veto threat from the White House, a key Senate committee is expected to advance a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline closer to a Senate vote.
The initial meeting on the legislation, also the first in the Republican-controlled Senate, was scheduled for Wednesday, but it was canceled after Democrats objected.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will take up the bill at a meeting Thursday. It is widely expected to clear the committee. The bill has 60 sponsors — 54 Republicans and six Democrats. While that is enough votes to pass the Senate, supporters said Monday they did not have enough votes to overturn a veto.
The House is expected to easily pass a bill on Friday approving the $5.4 billion construction project.
The bid to build the pipeline, which began in 2008, has become a political flashpoint. Conservatives see it as a way to create jobs and wean America off of foreign oil while environmental groups have made it a symbol of President Barack Obama's commitment to global warming.
The project will likely satisfy neither side. The pipeline's construction is not expected to produce many direct jobs. The State Department's own analysis concluded that it wouldn't worsen climate change because the oil would be harvested and then transported by other means, including rail, even if the pipeline were not built.
DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press
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