Junior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is now backtracking off his pro-Keystone Pipeline vote cast last week that embarrassed his more senior Democratic Colorado counterpart in the Senate, Mark Udall.
After casting a vote that virtually everyone saw as an endorsement of the job-creating energy venture, which is opposed by most environmental organizations, Bennet is now trying to have it both ways — voting for jobs and not pissing off his environmental allies.
Reports The Hill:
A trio of Senate Democrats are insisting that their vote for a Keystone XL pipeline amendment last week was not an endorsement of the project.
Backers of the oil sands pipeline scored a major win Friday when 17 Democrats joined Republicans in a 62-37 vote in favor of Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-N.D.) amendment.
The amendment’s sponsors said it was a strong show of support for Keystone. But at least three senators who cast surprise “yes” votes — and angered environmentalists — have a different view of the amendment.
…Another Democratic backer of the amendment, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), joined Carper and Coons in declining to cast the vote as an outright endorsement of Keystone.
“Senator Bennet believes the Keystone pipeline should go through the proper process and be judged on its merits,” said Bennet spokesman Adam Bozzi.
But sponsors and many backers of the amendment made very clear that they saw the amendment as an outright referendum on whether Keystone should be approved by the Obama administration.
Environmentalists certainly saw it that way, and are vowing to take action against the three senators.
“Our supporters in Delaware, Florida, Colorado and elsewhere will be bird-dogging their Senators or visiting their offices to make their disappointment known and encouraging them to change their position. These Senators have clearly underestimated how strongly their constituents feel about this issue,” said Jamie Henn of the climate advocacy group 350.org earlier this week.
Activists protested outside Bennet’s Denver office on Tuesday.
Bennet’s vote was highly embarrassing to Udall, as it drove Udall’s image leftwards, with Bennet on the side of jobs and bipartisanship and Udall left out in the cold with the hardcore environmentalists.
Well, it turns out environmentalists didn’t much appreciate the cold shoulder and “bird-dog” Senator Bennet they did, protesting his office and attacking him on social media:
— CleanWaterCO (@CleanWaterCO1) March 25, 2013
Which is it, Senator Bennet? Mark Udall and the enviros, or the 17 Democrats who joined Republicans in voting in favor of the Keystone Pipeline and the 20,000 jobs associated with it?
Votes have consequences, and even Allison Sherry picked up on this one.