NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Congress moved closer on Thursday to voting on bills that would approve the enormous Keystone XL pipeline amid statements of support from both Republicans and Democrats, and a rallying cry by proponents that the project could get the go-ahead without presidential approval.
Keystone supporters in the House readied a bill for a vote as early as Friday while the pipeline's backers in the Senate said they have enough support in the wake of the Republican mid-term election victory to force a vote next Tuesday.
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North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven, a leading backer of the pipeline, sponsored the Senate bill, and issued a statement early afternoon Thursday predicting approval.
"We now have votes scheduled in both chambers of Congress, but regardless of the outcome, President Obama has signaled strongly that he may veto my bill if it passes," Hoeven said.
"If he does veto it, however, we aren't finished. We'll pass it as either part of broader energy legislation or as an amendment to another must-pass bill, either in the lame duck or in the new Congress," he said.
If the bill becomes law, the President would not have to sign a cross-border permit because Congress will have authorized it under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, said Don Canton, a spokesman for Hoeven.
Canton said he expects the Senate to vote on the bill, S.2280, next Tuesday, following the House vote on an identical bill. Senate supporters include Democrat Mary Landrieu, who faces a runoff challenge from Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, who has sponsored the House bill.
"There's an agreement to bring Senator Hoeven's bill up in the Senate and there's a vote scheduled for Tuesday," Canton said.
Canton said the bill is supported by 45 Republicans and 11 Democrats. He said Landrieu has promised that another four Democrats will back the bill, bringing the total to 60 votes that would compel outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid to hold a vote.
"The bill simply approves the Keystone pipeline under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution," Canton said. "It obviates the need for the president to approve it. It approves it legislatively," he said.
Landrieu issued a statement in support of the bill. "I'm encouraged that the House is taking the exact language of a bill that I carefully drafted with Sen. Hoeven," she said.
The White House press office did not respond to questions on whether Obama would veto a bill approving the long-delayed pipeline, which would pump heavy crude oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the U.S.
Reuters on Thursday reported an Obama aide as saying the administration has previously taken a "dim view" of legislation seeking Keystone approval, and would likely do so again even if it passes both houses of Congress.
The project has been fiercely opposed by environmentalists who frame Obama's decision as a key gauge of his commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Republicans highlighted Keystone approval during the mid-term election campaign, and have been pushing for a quick approval since their seizure of a congressional majority in both houses last week.