That’s the inescapable conclusion one has to draw from the Keystone XL frenzy on Capitol Hill today.
The upshot of the proceedings: Landrieu was seen trying to look like a leader in getting Keystone XL through the Senate so she would have an actual deliverable to present to the voters in support of the argument that her clout in the Senate is too valuable to lose. That argument, of course, is a dead one – as soon as the new Congress is sworn in she’s finished as the Senate’s Energy Committee chair and earlier today incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that Landrieu’s opponent Bill Cassidy would get a spot on that committee if he wins.
So Landrieu had to be able to show a definitive piece of legislation important to the people of Louisiana in order to have a case for re-election. Keystone XL is really the only thing big enough, and with enough potential votes behind it, which would do.
The problem is that the Obama administration doesn’t support Keystone XL. They’re likely to veto it should it pass. Everyone knows this – it’s been more than six years since the permit was applied for to build the pipeline and the president has sat on it the entire time, using a variety of ruses to delay approval so as not to bear the political fallout of a definitive “no.”
Bringing a bill to force Keystone XL approval is hardly something new. The House has passed eight such bills, all eight of which sat abandoned on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk at Obama’s behest.
But because Landrieu needs a deliverable, all of a sudden Keystone XL approval is a fast-track item for the lame-duck Senate. Now there will be a vote.
Sen. David Vitter described the proceedings perfectly. “We’ve been pushing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for nearly four years now. The timing of the debate in the Senate today is obvious that it’s a political stunt. The American people deserve to know if the effort by Democratic leadership to finally make good on our request is a serious attempt to build the pipeline and grow our economy, or if this is a shell game,” said Vitter.
Landrieu wants a vote on Keystone XL as soon as possible, but the problem is that she might not get enough sympathetic Democrats to thumb their nose at Tom Steyer and the rest of the lefty billionaire enviroloon crowd which funds that party to deliver a majority vote. After all, given that Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan and Mark Udall have all lost their seats and several other Democrat holders of Senate seats are lame ducks for other reasons, there isn’t any particular incentive for them to carry Keystone XL to completion because the voters want it. Some of them might have personal incentives not to – who knows what DC lobbying firms or think tanks might be looking to hire them.
So the word is it might be next week before Landrieu can get her Keystone XL vote. And that’s not good enough – so she was on the Senate floor haranguing in favor of a vote.
Landrieu was looking for unanimous consent to pass the original Keystone XL pipeline bill tonight, but she didn’t get it. She needs five more Democrats than she has in order to get the 60 votes, and while she might have them we won’t know until Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Bill Cassidy and the House majority saw this political gambit for what it is, and offered up a gambit of their own. Cassidy took the precise language of the Senate bill and offered it on the House floor. The House leadership, giddy at the thought of not only robbing Landrieu of her campaign issue but showing that it’s a lot more capable of moving legislation than Reid’s dysfunctional Senate, will have a vote on his bill tomorrow.
Meaning that Cassidy will be the author of the House bill, and Landrieu will be struggling in the Senate to pass, as much as she might deny it, Cassidy’s bill.
That was a rather bitter pill to swallow for Louisiana’s senior senator, so she appeared, exasperated, at a press avail this afternoon to explain that, really, this wasn’t about politics and it wasn’t about her. Things get fun about 26 seconds into this clip, and then Cassidy comes on to give his take…
As the Washington Post reports, things got a little more entertaining a bit later…
Landrieu seemed especially tense Wednesday before the announcement, with one exchange that played out in the Capitol basement hinting at her fraught relations with Democratic leadership.
The Louisiana senator was spotted riding the escalator alone up from the Senate trains that carry lawmakers between their offices and the Capitol, toward a row of elevators. She was stone-faced and declined to answer questions from reporters. Once she reached the top level and stepped off, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the Democratic Party’s most influential campaign strategists, spotted her and walked quickly in her direction.
Schumer, smiling, asked Landrieu to step aside for a private conversation. She shook her head and moved briskly toward the elevator. As she did, she pointed to her phone, saying she had a call. Schumer paused for a moment as she moved away. His smile dropped and then he turned to follow her. “Mary, Mary,” he said, a few steps behind, asking her to speak with him. When she kept moving and ducked into an elevator, he hustled and jumped in to join her as the doors closed.
Doesn’t this add up to a sense that Landrieu just doesn’t have what it’s going to take to pull this election out? Certainly, it looks like that sense is shared by the Democrat money folks…
Six days ago, it was reported the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wouldn’t be lending any more support to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) leading up to her December 6 runoff election against Republican opponent Bill Cassidy, as the DSCC has canceled its advertising reservations in the state. However, it appears that her problems extend well beyond them, as even more outside groups have appeared to jump ship — at least for the time being.
FEC filings from the past week show that the sitting senator hasn’t received one independent donation from any outside group either in support of her re-election or opposing Cassidy. In fact, every independent committee or PAC donation went in support of her Republican challenger or into opposing her in the runoff election.
Landrieu can’t seem to find funding, she can’t seem to find an accomplishment to show the voters and she can’t seem to find a viable line of attack against Cassidy.
It adds up to twilight for Landrieu’s run in the Senate, and with it the end of the Democrat Party’s run in statewide elections in Louisiana. Obama and Reid had a chance to help Mary and refused, and now it’s just too late.