The Democratic-led Senate defeats a Republican proposal to include the Keystone XL oil pipeline project in the two-year transportation bill.

With gas prices becoming a high-octane campaign issue, the Democratic-led Senate defeated a Republican effort Thursday to advance the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The vote to attach the project to a must-pass transportation bill required 60 votes to advance. It received 56, with 11Democrats joining Republicans in support; 42 senators voted no.

President Obama had called senators to urge a no vote.

“We hope that the Congress will … not waste its time with ineffectual, sham legislation,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

But the effort — along with a vote on a measure to expand offshore drilling that was also rejected — was designed to highlight differences between the two parties and provide fodder in this year’s battle for control of the White House and the Senate.

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