President Obama’s lobbying effort paid off yesterday, when the Senate rejected a bill that would move forward construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by a razor-thin margin:
President Obama had called senators to urge a no vote.
But the effort – along with a vote on a measure to expand offshore drilling that was also rejected — was designed to highlight differences between the two parties and provide fodder for the campaign trail in this year’s battle for control of the White House and the Senate.
Republicans needed 60 votes to get the Keystone construction measure attached to a transportation bill that is critical for the White House. While they were able to get 11 Democrats to support it, they still came up four votes short.
The debate over the measure put Obama in an awkward position, particularly after his constant claims the “do-nothing Republican Congress” has been holding up job creation. As yesterday’s vote highlights, Obama is actively working to delay construction on a pipeline that would create thousands of jobs.
“President Obama’s personal pleas to wavering senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation,” Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office.”
After weeks of getting pummeled by Democrats and the media over the birth control battle, Republicans would be smart to pivot to the Keystone project. It’s a way to attack Obama on both energy prices and job creation, and it’s an issue that actually resonates with the general public.