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Senate Democrats Block Keystone XL Pipeline Approval

Vote on controversial pipeline came as Louisiana's Mary Landrieu fights a quixotic battle to keep her Senate seat.

Posted on November 18, 2014, at 6:23 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Despite heavy lobbying from Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Senate failed to pass a measure Tuesday to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure needed 15 Democrats along with all 45 Republicans in order to pass the crucial 60-vote threshold, but Landrieu was unable to muster enough support amongst her colleagues, and the bill failed on a 59 to 41 vote.

Democrats rushed to get a vote on the pipeline through before Landrieu's tight runoff election next month. Building the pipeline is seen as a politically popular position in Louisiana, but some Democrats have questioned whether this vote will have any effect at all on Landrieu's chances.

Landrieu's push for the vote highlighted one of the most stark rifts within the Democratic Party. Most Democrats and environmental groups are largely against building the pipeline, while red-state Democrats and labor unions have supported it.

House Republicans passed their version of the bill last week. That bill was sponsored by Landrieu's GOP challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy.

The race between Cassidy and Landrieu will determine the final remaining seat in the Senate.

Hours before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was still unsure how it would end up. But either way, he said Senate Democrats hadn't "given up" on Landrieu's chances to be reelected.

Sen. Joe Manchin added that "whether it happens now or happens in January," with sweeping Republican support the vote on Keystone will occur no matter what, so it would make sense to just pass it now.

"Everybody knows where Mary is," Manchin said. "You know it's a tough race, but she's a tough woman."

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