By a vote of 56-42, the Senate rejected Republican-backed legislation that included provisions for the Keystone XL pipeline in a transportation bill, the latest effort to force the hand of the White House on the pipeline.
That provoked an angry response from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said Obama is out of touch on the issue.
"Most Americans strongly support building this pipeline and the jobs that would come with it," McConnell said in a statement. "And it's incomprehensible to me that the president of the United States is lobbying against it."
A telephone survey of 1,501 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press indicated most respondents favored the project, though few said they heard a lot about the issue.
Obama rejected similar legislation inserted into a bill extending payroll tax benefits.
"The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose route has yet to be proposed," said Carney.
TransCanada, the pipeline company behind the project, announced recently it was moving forward with the domestic leg of the project. It's reviewing alternative routes through Nebraska before reapplying for a presidential permit.
The project needs federal approval because Keystone XL would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.