The long political battle over the
And that is an outcome
That's why many were surprised last week when the Nevada Democrat promised to hold a vote on the issue, defying President
Bypassing the White House would open a new rift among
So why is Reid holding a vote on a bill he really doesn't want to pass?
Voting to approve the pipeline would be politically helpful for several conservative-state Democratic senators who are up for re-election this fall, as they try to show voters their independence from the party on the issue.
Eleven Democratic senators, including Sen.
Passage in the Senate would be a milestone, probably prompting swift approval by Republicans in the House. Several years of what have been bitter partisan fights over the mainstays of energy policy -- fossil fuels versus renewable sources, climate change and its deniers -- would come to a momentary bipartisan truce.
But 60 votes is not the same as almost 60, and that may be what Reid is counting on.
A vote of 59 or 58 this week would be a win-win for Democrats. It would allow pro-pipeline senators to show their constituents they tried, while keeping the peace with anti-pipeline senators and environmentalists.
And it would avoid a showdown with the White House that would force Obama to become the vetoer-in-chief.
Sensing the potential outcome, Senate Republicans may not be willing to play the Democrats' game. They have so far panned Democrats' latest offer for a vote on Keystone, as they press other issues as part of a separate energy efficiency bill making its way through the floor proceedings.