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Senate OKs Keystone XL Pipeline, Setting Up Fight With Obama

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.

Updated at 4:29 p.m. ET

The Senate voted 62-36 on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, setting up a faceoff with the White House, which has threatened a presidential veto.

Nine Democrats joined 53 Republicans to pass the measure, which now must be reconciled with a version passed last month by the House. The Senate vote is also not enough to override a presidential veto.

The U.S. State Department, which has been reviewing the pipeline for more than six years, is now deciding whether the project to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is in the national interest. Congressional Republicans want to short-circuit that years-long process and grant the Keystone XL pipeline a permit immediately.

As we have previously reported, the "pipeline is a hot-button political issue, with politicians from both parties, some unions and energy companies supporting its approval while environmental groups, some Nebraska landowners and some liberal Democrats oppose it."

Supporters say it will create more than 40,000 jobs, but opponents are skeptical — with one estimate noting that it would create just 35 permanent jobs.

NPR's Jeff Brady previously reported that the pipeline is controversial primarily because it would transport crude from Canada's tar sands, which emit more pollution during production than traditional forms of oil. But a State Department environmental review last year concluded the pipeline wouldn't have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions.

The White House has vowed to veto any legislation that approves the $8 billion project, saying it is awaiting the State Department's review.

Our full coverage of the pipeline is here.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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