Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama will veto the Keystone XL bill if Congress passes a measure green-lighting the oil pipeline, White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced on Tuesday.
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Obama will veto Keystone bill
The pipeline is currently in a final phase of review from the State Department, which has already concluded that it would have a minimal impact on the environment. But the State Department also assessed that the pipeline would create about 42,000 jobs directly and indirectly during the construction period -- but just 50 permanent jobs.
The White House reviewed the text of the bill to authorize the pipeline on Monday, Earnest said.
Obama's objection to the legislation, Earnest said, is not based on the merits of the project so much as the idea Congress was trying to take the decision out of the hands of the executive branch.
"The President has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established process for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do," Earnest said.
Previously, Obama had not said if he would veto another bill to authorize the pipeline, but suggested his position hadn't changed since he threatened to during the 113th Congress.
Newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline project a priority for the new Congress. The bill has some bipartisan support, but environmentalists and progressives have heavily lobbied the White House to oppose the pipeline.
Democrats sought to delay progress on the bill by insisting the Senate vote to confirm committee members of the new Congress before proceeding with the pipeline legislation. Republicans are miffed Democrats objected over this technicality, but insist it won't have much practical impact on the bill. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee still plans to meet Thursday to vote to send it to the floor. The delay means a final Senate vote probably won't happen until sometime around the State of the Union address, which is the following Tuesday, January 20th.
The House is expected is to pass its Keystone bill on Friday.
House Speaker John Boehner's office quickly released a statement on Tuesday calling Obama out for opposing the pipeline, a decision Boehner painted as another sign Obama is "hopelessly out of touch" with Americans.
"His answer is no to more American infrastructure, no to more American energy and no to more American jobs," Boehner said. "Fringe extremists in the President's party are the only ones who oppose Keystone, but the President has chosen to side with them instead of the American people and the government's own scientific evidence that this project is safe for the environment."
A bill to authorize the pipeline failed in the last weeks of the Democratic-led Senate last year, but a new Republican majority ensured the vote could reach a 60-vote filibuster proof majority. Supporters of the pipeline would need to whip 67 votes in the Senate to override a presidential veto.
Sens. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, introduced legislation to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline on Tuesday, just hours before Earnest announced the President's commitment to veto any legislation.
Manchin said Tuesday he was "extremely disappointed" by the White House announcement the President would veto his bill.
He said he had called the White House legislative staff earlier in the day on Tuesday to discuss the measure and find out what changes the White House might want in order to get the President's support. Manchin was then caught off guard by the veto warning and said it appeared to him the White House was disingenuous in its discussions.
"It's just wrong; it's just not the way you do business," he told reporters.