The Keystone XL pipeline cleared its first hurdle of the new Congress on Friday when the House voted to approve construction of the long-stalled project, just hours after a court in Nebraska cleared a final legal hurdle there.
The 266-153 vote saw 28 Democrats side with the GOP in backing the pipeline, signaling significant though not overwhelming support for the controversial project that would carry crude oil from Canada into the U.S. for refinement.
President Obama has already vowed a veto, and the vote signals there are probably not enough votes to override him if he does follow through.
The House has approved Keystone before, but the project has stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Democrats. The GOP took control this week, however, and is speeding its own bill through its chamber, with an early test-vote slated for Monday.
“There is no excuse — scientific or otherwise — for the president to continue blocking the pipeline,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner. “An overwhelming majority of Americans support this job-creating energy project and President Obama ought to respect their will and stop standing in the way.”
Mr. Obama had promised his veto both because he said Congress was short-circuiting his own powers, and because he said there was still a court case pending in Nebraska over the path of the pipeline through that state. On Friday, however, that case was tossed.