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Franken renews push for American-made steel for Keystone

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WASHINGTON — Here’s some déjà vu for Minnesota voters: Sen. Al Franken has injected American-made steel back into the Keystone XL pipeline debate.

Franken has formally introduced an amendment requiring the pipeline, if approved by Congress, be built with American-made steel. The amendment, which Franken offered to a GOP bill that would authorize construction of the pipeline despite an ongoing State Department review, could come to the floor for a vote next week, lawmakers announced Tuesday.

The American-made steel debate will be familiar to those who paid attention to Franken’s re-election campaign last year. Franken has said he opposes bypassing the regulatory process for Keystone, but, either way, it should be constructed with American steel. During the campaign his Republican opponent, businessman Mike McFadden, said he didn’t think that should be a precondition to constructing Keystone, a comment the DFL used against him throughout the campaign, especially on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Franken’s amendment is short, requiring that: “to the maximum extent consistent with the obligations of the United States under international trade agreements, none of the iron, steel or manufactured goods used in construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and facilities approved by this act may be produced outside of the United States.” The big caveat: the amendment wouldn’t apply if using American-made products would increase the price of the project by more than 25 percent.

“I have long believed that Congress should not short circuit the regular permitting process for the Keystone pipeline as there are still agencies reviewing the project that have yet to complete their analyses,” Franken said in a statement. “I also think that if the pipeline is built, it should be built with American steel from our American producers.”

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the amendment and the final bill early next week. Republicans overcame a Democratic filibuster on Monday, and the House passed a bill approving Keystone, a 1,179-mile pipeline carrying oil from Canada to existing pipelines in Nebraska, last week. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill should it reach his desk.

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