Senate Defies Obama's Veto Threat, Votes to Approve Keystone XL

The decision approves Transcanada's route through Nebraska, but might open a whole other can of worms for the company. Andrew Cullen/Reuters

The U.S. Senate voted 62-36 to pass a bill forcing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a disputed Canadian tar sands pipeline long the focus of contentious debate and protest. Every Republican senator voted in favor of the pipeline, with nine Democrats joining, Roll Call reports. The vote marks the first victory for the newly Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill will now move to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to quickly pass a vote, but President Obama, who has said that the pipeline would have no "nominal benefit" to Americans, has threatened to veto it.

Obama previously said that he would wait for a decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court over whether or not TransCanada, the pipeline company building Keystone XL, had the right of eminent domain on private property in the pipeline's proposed path through the state. That decision came earlier this month, in favor of TransCanada. Now, parties on both sides of the debate are calling for a quick decision from the President. The New York Times reports that sources close to the issue expect a decision from Obama as early as February.