Here's a date to watch in the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline: Feb. 19. That's when Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will host a summit with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the meeting could go a long way toward determining whether Congress will try to force Obama's hand on Keystone by setting a firm decision deadline.
Hoeven said he will be watching closely to see if Obama offers his pro-Keystone Canadian ally a timeline for the U.S. decision — and believes Congress will get more aggressive if Obama doesn't.
"I think the [Canadian] prime minister is going to bring this up. What is the president going to say?," Hoeven, a vocal Keystone backer, said Tuesday.
"That may affect our ability to get our coalition to say, 'OK, if nothing else let's set a timeline.' Once they have that summit, if there isn't some manifestation of a realistic timeline by the president, we may have a better ability to get 60 senators that say, 'OK, we have got to have a timeline,' " Hoeven told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Pipeline supporters are seeking to keep up the pressure on Obama to approve the project.
Hoeven held a press conference Tuesday with other Keystone supporters, including Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu; Gary Doer, who is Canada's ambassador to the U.S.; and labor officials.