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Montana's two U.S. senators spar over Keystone pipeline votes

Trump suggests administration will appeal ruling halting Keystone pipeline construction
Posted at 3:44 PM, Feb 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 17:44:31-05

Once again the embattled Keystone XL pipeline finds itself in the political crosshairs, now sparking a war of words between Montana's two U.S. senators.

It stems from a Senate vote early Friday morning that stripped Republican Sen. Steve Daines' Keystone amendment from the new budget resolution.

"Early this morning while the American people were asleep, Senate Democrats chose to flip flop on their support for my Keystone XL pipeline amendment," Daines tweeted.

Daines said the Keystone amendment would have fast-tracked his bill that would give Congress, not the President, the authority to approve the pipeline.

But a spokesperson for Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said Tester has not wavered in his decade-long support for the Keystone project. In fact, Tester was among two Democrats who initially broke with their party to support the Keystone amendment Friday morning, keeping it alive.

At the end of the marathon Senate session, Tester voted in favor of the budget resolution without the Keystone amendment.

"Keeping amendments unrelated to COVID relief in the resolution would have left the overall package unable to pass the House or Senate, killing the prospects for COVID relief," said Sarah Feldman, Tester's communications director. "Ultimately, last night’s votes were about passing COVID relief for Montana families, workers, and small businesses."

A Daines spokesperson summed up their frustration, saying "those that flip-flopped will have some explaining to do."

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking the Keystone Pipeline's U.S. permit, halting construction on the project that would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska.

According to the Keystone XL website, the project, initially proposed more than a decade ago, would sustain about 11,000 U.S. jobs in 2021 – including 8,000 union jobs – and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages.