NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Supporters of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline said they have the votes to pass a bill calling for its approval when the measure comes before the U.S. Senate late Tuesday.
"We believe there are enough votes to pass it," said Don Canton, spokesman for Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, a longtime Keystone backer who has cosponsored the bill, along with Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu of Lousiana.
Canton predicted 45 Republicans and 15 or "perhaps" 16 Democrats will vote for the bill, achieving the margin of 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster, halting debate in the Senate, which is expected to vote on the bill at about 6:15 to 6:30 p.m. EDT, Canton said.
Following passage in the House of an identical bill last Friday, the legislation would then to go President Obama, who is expected to veto it.
"The President has signaled clearly that he plans to veto it if it passes," Canton wrote in an email.
In the event of a presidential veto, supporters will reintroduce the bill in the new Congress, and attach it to a broader energy bill or to other "must-pass" legislation that the president won't want to veto, Canton said.
Republicans who have long called for presidential approval of Keystone launched a fresh initiative in the wake of their victory in the mid-term elections, introducing bills in both houses of Congress that would give the go-ahead for construction of the pipeline.
The pipeline, which would carry heavy crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, has been the focus of fierce confrontation between business interests, who say the project would generate jobs and boost energy independence, and environmentalists, who argue it would sharply increase carbon emissions and set back global efforts to slow climate change.