Iowa’s two Republican senators have voted for legislation that would authorize construction fo the Keystone XL pipeline. Senator Joni Ernst afterwards told reporters she was a “proud co-sponsor” of the bill.
“My colleagues and I promised our folks back home that we would govern in a responsible way and that’s what we are doing,” Ernst said during a telephone conference call with Iowa reporters. “We are moving legislation that the American people have asked for.”
The pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, would not extend through Iowa. A court ruling earlier this month cleared the way for its passage through neighboring Nebraska. The U.S. State Department estimates 42,000 people would be employed during the two-year construction phase.
“This will help us create new jobs, invest billions of dollars into our economy and also (build) new energy infrastructure,” Ernst said.
The U.S. House has already passed its version of the bill and Republican leaders in the House have yet to decide whether to pass the slightly different Senate version of the bill or create a conference committee of House and Senate members to hammer out a final draft. The legislation will set up the first official clash with the new Republican-led congress, as President Obama has promised to veto the bill.
Senator Chuck Grassley, in a written statement, said the pipeline is “a privately funded, shovel ready infrastructure project that would support a lot of good-paying jobs.” Grassley suggested President Obama is “stuck between the unions that want these jobs and the environmentalists who don’t want any more use of fossil fuels.”
In 2014, a similar bill failed to clear the Senate. Grassley voted for it, but Democrat Tom Harkin, Iowa’s other senator at the time, voted no.