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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives by a 266-153 vote passed a bill Friday authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
The decision was made just a few hours after the Nebraska Supreme Court approved the route for the controversial pipeline to pass through its state, reversing an earlier lower court ruling that blocked the proposal.
The Keystone XL bill was overwhelmingly approved by House Republicans. Twenty-eight Democrats also voted for the measure to pass.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the matter next week. Senate sponsors believe they have enough votes for the measure to pass, but at this stage, it is uncertain if they can get a veto-proof majority. In fact, the 266 votes garnered in favor of the bill by the House of Representatives did not equal a supermajority needed to override a presidential veto.
Even if the Senate approves the pipeline's construction, there is a strong possibility President Barack Obama will exercise his veto power. In a December press conference, Obama said he opposed the 1,179-mile pipeline connecting Canadian tar sands to oil refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast. The creation of too few new jobs, no benefit to U.S. oil prices at the pump, and the possibility of worsening climate change were three reasons cited by Obama for opposing the bill.
When contacted Friday by Fox News, State Department Spokesman Eric Schultz said if the Keystone XL pipeline proposal appeared on the president's desk, "he will veto the bill."
Friday's House vote followed more than three hours of morning filibuster. U.S. Rep. Paul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) was one of the bill's biggest opponents, saying approval of the pipeline would create U.S. jobs while being constructed, but would only add 35 full-time jobs once it's completed.
Another House Democrat stated the meager job creation was akin to someone opening one fast-food restaurant.
On the other side, several Republicans spoke to a desire to bring America closer to energy independence and pointed to the bill's approval as a great way to show loyalty to Canada, one of the U.S.' closest allies. Members of the GOP also cited a study that 60 percent of Americans support approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
"This is about oil stability around the world," said U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.). "It doesn't cure all problems, but it is part of the solution."