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The US Senate on Thursday approved a bill authorizing construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States, a Republican priority that faces a presidential veto. After weeks of sometimes fierce debate, the bill passed with 62 votes to 36, with nine Democrats defying President Barack Obama to support a project that would transport crude from Alberta's oil sands to refineries along the US Gulf Coast. The measure, tweaked during a roller-coaster process in which more than 40 amendments to the bill received floor consideration, heads back to the House of Representatives. The House approved its own Keystone legislation earlier this month and now must decide whether it passes the Senate measure or enters into bicameral conference to thrash out a compromise bill.