What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Outsourcing of American Jobs Overseas : (S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment barring the use of foreign-made steel in construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline (2015 senate Roll Call 5)
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(S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment barring the use of foreign-made steel in construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
senate Roll Call 5     Jan 20, 2015
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on a motion to table (kill) an amendment barring the use of foreign-made steel in construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The vote came as the Senate debated Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-ND) bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Keystone pipeline would connect Canada’s oil sands to the United States and, by extension, the global market for petroleum. President Obama’s administration was in the process of reviewing TransCanada’s application to build the cross-border pipeline, but the process had dragged on and become a divisive political symbol. Sen. Hoeven’s bill would authorize TransCanada’s permit, cutting short the Obama administration’s deliberations.

During debate on Sen. Hoeven’s bill, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) had offered an amendment requiring TransCanada to use only American-made iron and steel when constructing the Keystone XL pipeline. Under the terms of the amendment, foreign-made steel could have been used only if U.S. steel would have driven up the price of construction by 25 percent or more.

However, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) offered a “motion to table” Sen. Franken’s amendment. This motion would essentially kill the amendment, preventing an up-or-down vote on the proposal.

Supporters of Sen. Franken’s amendment argued that it would help make sure the construction of the pipeline benefited American workers. Construction of the pipeline would bring greater risk of pollution to U.S. soil, and so lawmakers had a responsibility to make sure it also delivered benefits – such as a boost to the U.S. steel industry, they said.

“A vote to table this (amendment) is a vote against American jobs,” Sen. Franken said. “It is a vote against jobs in Ohio and Minnesota. It is a vote against the shippers who ship our iron ore over the Great Lakes or by rail or over the Mississippi so it can be used to make steel.”

Supporters of the motion to table argued that it would be unfair to force TransCanada, a private company, to buy its raw materials from certain suppliers. This would create a potentially harmful precedent of federal micromanagement of private industry, they argued.

“I think all of us want to buy American and buy local whenever and wherever we can,” Sen. Murkowski said. “But I think the bigger question here – and what we have in front of us with the Keystone XL pipeline – is what this amendment would do… This would be the first time that Congress has directed or forced private parties to purchase domestic goods and materials.”

The Senate agreed to the motion to table by a vote of 53-46. Voting “yea” were 53 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 45 Democrats and 1 Republican. As a result, the Senate killed an amendment barring the use of foreign-made steel in construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.


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