The House of Representatives passed the Northern Route Approval Act on a vote of 241-175, largely along party lines. Nineteen Democrats voted in favor of a measure that takes the Keystone XL decision out of the administration's hands.
U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., sponsor of the bill, said there's been enough vetting of the project in more than four years and it was time to approve the pipeline.
Keystone XL needs federal approval as a cross-border project.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Obama was the last obstacle to Keystone XL.
"The Northern Route Approval Act makes the Keystone XL pipeline a reality," he said in a floor statement. "It declares that no presidential permit shall be required to approve this pipeline and prevents the Obama administration from imposing further delays."
The president's Office of Management and Budget said Obama would veto the legislation although, with the Senate said to be unlikely to consider such legislation, the White House may not have to resort to a veto.
Supporters of Keystone XL say it would ensure North American independence and create tens of thousands of jobs. Opponents say pipelines are too prone to spills and heavy Canadian crude oil, the type designated for the pipeline, carries too many environmental risks.
Oil Change International, an opponent of the pipeline, reports that members of Congress who supported the act took six times more in campaign contributions from the oil industry than did opponents.
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