WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday, a congressional aide said on Thursday as lawmakers prepared to debate the controversial project.
The legislation, which is expected to pass the Republican-led chamber, would approve the pipeline that would run from Canada south to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
The Senate could take up the bill next week, possibly on Tuesday, setting up a potential showdown with the White House.
U.S. President Barack Obama has not said whether he would sign any bill on the pipeline into law, and U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said on Wednesday that she has no commitment from Obama that he would do so.
If he vetoes it, Congress could then move to override him but the pipeline project needs presidential approval because it crosses an international border.
Obama's administration has been weighing for six years whether to approve the project, which also faces a court challenge in Nebraska over the pipeline's route. White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday said senior administration officials had a "dim view" of previous proposals and had recommended that the president veto them.
Environmentalists, an important Democratic constituency, have argued against encouraging Canada's extraction of a crude oil that is seen as particularly polluting and will worsen global climate change problems.
Conservatives, and even some Democrats and labor unions, have been heavily pressing the project as a way to create jobs and boost U.S. energy independence.
The rapid push for legislation this week follows the sweep by Republicans in the midterm congressional election earlier this month.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Doina Chiacu and Matthew Lewis)
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