President Obama rejected a bill today to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency. It came as no surprise. Obama offered no indication of whether he'll eventually issue a permit for the pipeline, whose construction has become a flashpoint in the US debate about environmental policy and climate change. Instead, Obama sought to reassert his authority to make the decision himself, rebuffing GOP lawmakers who will control both the House and Senate for the remainder of the president's term. "The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people."
Obama vetoed the bill in private with no fanfare, in contrast to the televised ceremony Republican leaders staged earlier this month when they signed the bill and sent it to the president. House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans were "not even close" to giving up the fight and derided the veto as a "national embarrassment." The move sends the issue back to Congress, where Republicans haven't shown they can muster the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to override Obama's veto. North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, the bill's chief GOP sponsor, said Republicans are about four votes short in the Senate and need about 11 more in the House. (Read more TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline stories.)