President Obama is digging in on the Keystone XL pipeline. He is "personally lobbying Democrats to reject an amendment calling for its construction," Politico reports.
The White House lobbying effort, including phone calls from the president to Democrats, signals that the vote could be close when it heads to the floor Thursday. The president is trying to defeat an amendment that would give election-year fodder to his Republican critics who have accused him of blocking a job-creating energy project at a time of high gas prices.
The amendment, proposed by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), states that Obama would have no role in such cross-border permitting decisions since, in this case, the pipeline would originate in Canada. The measure would need 60 votes to pass, and Obama has already lost two Democrats who back the proposal - Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mary Landrieu - and is at risk of losing more moderates and vulnerable Democrats.
The Keystone XL pipeline would create an estimated 20,000 jobs and, likely, drive down the price of gasoline in the long run. It would seem to be a good move at a time of high unemployment and high gas prices.
And, in fact, most Americans like the idea of the Keystone pipeline. According to a November poll, of likely U.S. voters, 60 percent "at least somewhat favor building the pipeline which President Obama has delayed until at least 2013 because of environmental concerns."
UPDATE: White House spokesman Jay Carney confirms the story at his press conference today that the president himself is lobbying Congress on this issue: