The House and Senate will both finally move forward with controversial Keystone XL votes this month.

The decision to put the pipeline project on the legislative agenda comes ahead of a runoff election for a Louisiana Senate seat currently held by Mary Landrieu, a Democrat. According to the Washington Post, both Landrieu and her opponent, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, pressed the leadership in their respective chambers to hold votes.

The Obama administration has not taken a final position on the project, instead keeping it under study for years. The Keystone XL pipeline has been a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. It has particularly drawn the attention of environmentalist liberals, who think the president has not done enough to stop it, and conservatives who argue that the project is part of a misguided energy agenda that would increase prices on still-widely-used fossil fuels.

That Republican line of attack proved successful in several of the races it won last Tuesday. While both Landrieu and Cassidy have gone on record as supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, its clear that in the wake of the election results both want to bolster their credentials as friends of Louisiana’s energy economy.

In a clear sign of the Keystone XL vote’s political significance, Landrieu took credit on her campaign Twitter account.

She also pointed to the midterm results as a reason to move forward with the pipeline.

“This election has opened up a path for Keystone,” Landrieu said in a Senate floor speech.

The pipeline project “would be a tremendous windfall for all of us,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia said on Wednesday. “It’s something we can count on. And I can’t for the life of me understand why we haven’t to date been able to move this piece of legislation forward.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Republicans promised Cassidy a seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Landrieu currently sits on that committee and has used her seniority as a key selling point during her campaign.

“Sen. Landrieu made much of her seat on the energy committee, but failed to use that seat to stand up to President Obama’s assault on our energy economy,” Cassidy said in a statement.

And Sen. Mitch McConnell, expected to become the next Senate majority leader, said in a statement that he is “confident Dr. Cassidy will use this position to succeed where Sen. Landrieu failed.” He added that with Cassidy, “Louisiana will have a senator that will use his clout to support energy jobs, not President Obama.”

But Landrieu, who has served in the Senate since 1997, pointed to her experience as an asset, saying that Cassidy would come in as “a rookie that has no seniority.”

The Keystone XL votes are set to take place in the House and Senate next week. Louisiana’s senate runoff is set for December 6.

[photo credit: Mary Landrieu]