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House Republicans took the first step Tuesday toward forcing approval of Keystone XL pipeline, with a subcommittee passing a proposal that aims to green-light the massive project without President Obama’s approval.

The bill which is designed more to put pressure on the White House than to actually become law would strip the administration’s ability to block the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. The bill also would limit the number of future environmental-impact studies and streamline the judicial review process for legal challenges to the project.

“This is a big step forward,” Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican, told The Washington Times minutes after the measure sailed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy and power subcommittee on a 17-9 vote. “I feel a great deal of momentum. I hear the momentum out there. People are just really saying they don’t understand the continued delays that are occurring. So, the people are behind this more than ever.”

Mr. Terry’s proposal now heads to the full committee and he predicted the Republican-controlled House could vote on the bill as early as next month. The Natural Resources Committee, meanwhile, held a separate hearing Tuesday on the issue.

The bill almost certainly will not become law, because it would have to pass both the Democrat-led Senate and get Mr. Obama’s signature. The first of these events would be tough to achieve and the second virtually impossible.

Still, the push highlights the mounting frustration with the Obama administration’s refusal to sign off on the 1,700-mile pipeline, which would transport oil sands from Canada through the U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast.