"If this bill passes this Congress, the president won't sign it," said Josh Earnest.
The affirmation comes on the same day Republican lawmakers took the oath of office, and with it, control of Congress.
In order to approve projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline, there needs to be "well-established process in place,” Earnest said, as he emphasized that, “the president has been pretty clear that he does not think that circumventing a well-established progress for evaluating these projects is the right thing for Congress to do.”
The Senate voted 59-41 in November against the bill that would approve the construction of the pipeline that would carry Canadian heavy crude oil to the U.S., one vote shy for approval, in the then-Democratically-controlled chamber.
If built, it is expected to transport more than 800,000 barrels per day to Nebraska. Opponents of the construction cite environmental concerns for their opposition.
With control of Congress now with Republicans, the bill is expected to pass the legislature.
Outspoken Republican Sen. John Barosso boldly predicted Sunday that, “The president is going to see the Keystone XL pipeline on his desk.”
While Republican senators hope to get the pipeline approved, the White House statement appears to set up an early clash with lawmakers in the coming days.