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Landrieu Tries to Take Credit for Keystone, Will Pass Cassidy’s Bill

Sen. Mary Landrieu
Mary Landrieu / AP
• November 13, 2014 5:00 pm

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Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) reversed course on Thursday, saying she does want to take credit for securing a Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Landrieu had previously said that pushing for a vote was not about boosting her own embattled reelection fight against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R.), which is set for a runoff on Dec. 6.

From the Hill:

The Keystone debate is wrapped up in midterm election politics, with both Landrieu and her opponent in the Louisiana Senate runoff, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), taking the lead on legislation.

On Wednesday, Landrieu insisted she wasn’t calling for a vote to make political gains. She and Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) are the lead authors of the bill.

"If they want to take my name off, put somebody’s else name on it and pass it, so be it," Landrieu said on the floor Wednesday. "I didn’t come here to see my name in lights."

But on Thursday, she demanded that the press give her credit for the achievement, since Republicans planned to use the vote as a talking point at a press conference later in the day.

"When they call press conferences later today and declare victory, remember who actually brought this to the floor," Landrieu said Thursday. "I’m the senator who came to this floor."

On Wednesday Landrieu did not object to Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) offering a unanimous consent (UC) agreement, which will expedite the process and pass any House bill if it has the exact language as the Hoeven bill. The House is expected to pass such a bill, sponsored by Cassidy, on Friday.

"Unfortunately, the majority has blocked this pipeline several times," Cornyn said. "It has been stalled for way too long, so I am glad to see some progress is being made, albeit at this late date, after a dramatic election on November 4."

"I ask the Senator to modify her request so that if the Senate passes S. 2280 and receives a bill from the House that is identical to S. 2280, then the House bill will be read three times and passed with no intervening action or debate, and thus we can send this bill directly to the President without further action," he said.

"I can see no reason to object to what the Senator from Texas is asking for, and I consider it extraordinary progress," Landrieu said.

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. Republicans have promised Cassidy a seat on the Energy Committee.

After failing for six years to bring a measure to the floor, the vote to approve Keystone has now been dubbed a "hail Mary" by Democrats to save Landrieu’s seat.

The House previously passed eight bills to expedite the construction of the pipeline, none of which were taken up by the Senate.