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J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. arrives for work on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, as the Republican-controlled Senate is moving ahead on a bill to construct the Keystone XL pipeline despite President Barack Obama's veto threat. The House approved the bill last Friday.

WASHINGTON — Legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline has cleared an initial hurdle in the Senate, a victory for Republicans newly in charge and now eager for a veto showdown with President Barack Obama.

The vote was 63-32, three more than the 60 needed to advance the bill.

The proposed 1,179-mile pipeline would begin in Canada, enter the United States at Morgan, Montana, cut across South Dakota and connect with an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska, that in turn reaches refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. It would carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day.