Call it a high-stakes political poker game, with the Louisiana Senate seat the big prize.
Three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, facing an uphill fight to hold her seat in a Dec. 6 runoff, on Wednesday called for vote on approving the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline project.
Within an hour, Republican leaders in the House announced that lawmakers would vote Thursday on a bill sponsored by Landrieu's Republican rival, Rep. Bill Cassidy, to build the pipeline.
The back-and-forth came against the backdrop of a new political landscape. Republicans rolled in midterm elections, seizing majority control of the Senate with a net gain of eight seats. A GOP victory in Louisiana would make it nine.
It remains to be seen whether the Democratic-led Senate will vote on Keystone. Echoing Landrieu's plea were moderate Democrats from Republican states, who argued for the project that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast. The southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas is already operational.
Landrieu's request put Republicans who have pressed for the pipeline on the spot, rejecting Landrieu's call would open them to widespread criticism. Rather, they could go along and seek to add amendments to the bill.
President Barack Obama has delayed a decision on the project that is opposed by environmental groups. Republicans insist that it will create jobs.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Landrieu spoke of bipartisanship and her willingness to work with Republicans. She pressed for a speedy vote on Keystone, telling her colleagues.
"I want to say yes to majority leader — new majority leader Mitch McConnell," she said. "The time to start is now."
Landrieu has been the powerful chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a post she will lose when Republicans take charge in January.
If Cassidy wins, Republicans say he would get a seat on the committee.