Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) failed to convince enough members of her party to support the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday evening, a vote considered a desperate attempt to save her Senate seat.
Legislation that would have expedited the approval of the pipeline failed 41-59, falling short of the 60-vote threshold needed for approval. All 45 Republicans voted for the bill. Nearly six in 10 Americans support the project.
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Landrieu had agreed to a unanimous consent (UC) agreement, meaning the Senate voted on legislation that would have approved Landrieu’s opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy’s bill. The language was identical to the bill sponsored by Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.) and Landrieu, and passed the House last week. Landrieu is trailing Cassidy by double digits in their runoff set for Dec. 6.
Landrieu’s push started a divisive debate among red-state and liberal Democrats. Leading up to the vote was a back and forth between Landrieu and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) who said children would have to "run from the playground" from pollution from the pipeline.
"I know that Democratic senators will come down here and talk about the environment," Landrieu said. "There is negligible impact to the environment, from President Obama’s own State Department and EPA," she said, holding an administration report on the pipeline.
Landrieu had scrambled for votes since yelling "si se puede!" on the Senate floor to urge for the pipeline’s approval, a move that was widely panned as a political move to boost her reelection chances.
On Tuesday she said the vote was about "business not politics."
Landrieu’s major selling point for her reelection—her "clout" as Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee—has been diminished since Democrats will no longer be in the majority. She had tried to get the votes of Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.V.) and Angus King (I., Maine), though neither supported to the bill.
Republicans have promised Cassidy a seat on the Energy Committee, which would give him the same status that Landrieu would have in the new Congress.
"Senator Landrieu may have talked the talk on energy but she never walked the walk," Cassidy said after Sen. Mitch McConnell announced he would serve on the Energy Committee. "Louisiana will now have representation on this esteemed committee that's with them, not Barack Obama."
After failing for six years to bring a measure to the floor, the vote to approve Keystone was dubbed a "Hail Mary" by Democrats to save Landrieu’s seat.
President Obama was expected to veto the bill.