President Obama plans to reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. It will be only the third veto of his presidency but almost certainly not the last.

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On Tuesday, without any fanfare or speech, President Obama will issue his first veto of 2015. By refusing to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, Obama will usher in a new and contentious relationship with the Republican-controlled Congress that will likely result in many more vetoes before he leaves office.

“I would anticipate, as we’ve been saying for years, that the president will veto that legislation, and he will, so I would not anticipate a lot of drama or fanfare around it,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.

If anything, the White House has been surprised Obama hasn’t been able to veto Keystone sooner, since Congress passed the contentious bill more than a week ago.

“I have been perplexed by this process and the way it’s unfolded. Congress passed this bill like 10 days ago but it’s just coming to the White House, apparently as early as tomorrow,” Earnest said.

Rather than hold an event to publicize the rationale behind Obama’s veto of Keystone XL, the White House will reportedly send out an email announcing it.

But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency.

The expected Keystone veto, the third and most significant of Obama’s six years in office, would likely be followed by presidential vetoes of bills that could emerge to make changes in the Affordable Care Act, impose new sanctions on Iran and roll back child nutrition standards, among others.

For Obama, his Cross Townsend black rollerball pen will become an extension of his second-term strategy to act alone in the face of Republican opposition and safeguard his legislative record.

“It’s a new period of his administration,” said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington. “He will use the veto to protect his past record and not allow things he disagrees with to go forward.”

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said Obama had little choice: “I don’t think, in this divided government, there’s much doubt he will have to use it.”

But to Republicans who want to use their congressional majority to reverse the president’s regulatory agenda and block his executive actions, vetoes would be prime examples of what they see as Obama’s arrogance.

“There’s a lot we can get done together if the president puts his famous pen to use signing bills rather than vetoing legislation his liberal allies don’t like,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

If Obama takes the veto path in his last two years in office, he could easily surpass the 12 vetoes of his immediate predecessor, President George W. Bush. He will not come close to the 635 vetoes President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued during his 12 years in office or the 414 by President Grover Cleveland during his first term. But Obama might match the 37 by President Clinton or the 44 by President George H.W. Bush.

The statistics reflect how rare the veto has become in the modern presidency. Although the veto was once an accepted step in back-and-forth negotiations between presidents and lawmakers, historians say the increased partisanship and gridlock on Capitol Hill have made it more of a last-ditch measure.

Some lawmakers say partisanship could in fact hold down Obama’s veto count by preventing Republican-sponsored legislation from reaching the president’s desk in the first place.

Republicans hold 54 seats in the Senate, and most legislation requires 60 votes to avoid a filibuster that would block passage. That means the Democratic minority led by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada can still stop Republican efforts to pass legislation if Senate Democrats hold together.

As an example, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, noted that Senate Democrats were holding up Republican efforts to pass a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security because it includes provisions that would undermine Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. That has so far spared the president from having to veto the Republican legislation.

“Based on what we’ve seen so far, Democrats in the Senate are for the most part wanting to protect him on his priorities,” Portman said.

Earnest said presidents must always be mindful that Congress can override a president’s veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers. An overridden veto is an indication of weakness that presidents try to avoid, which gives Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate another incentive to block legislation before it gets to him.

Still, members of both parties are bracing for a future in which Republicans muscle through legislation the president will reject. Lawmakers in both parties have proposed legislation to sanction Iran, despite warnings by Obama that such a move could harm ongoing nuclear negotiations. Senators have already drafted a bill to eliminate the medical-devices tax, a highly contested part of Obama’s health law. Last year, House Republicans pushed to roll back child nutrition standards that were backed by first lady Michelle Obama.

Republicans could well start by pushing through budget measures, some of which require only 51 votes in the Senate and cannot be blocked by Democrats, then dare Obama to veto them.

McConnell has described another prospect in which Republicans would move to pass individual appropriations bills to provide funding for the different agencies of government, rather than passing one overall bill to fund the government. Republicans would attach to each of the bills “riders” — contested provisions likely to be offensive to Obama — that would likely lead the president to veto the bill.

Specifically, McConnell has vowed to attach riders to the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget bill that would stop the enactment of two major climate-change regulations.

Jody Freeman, director of Harvard’s environmental-law program and a former senior counselor to the president, said there was no doubt Obama would veto such an effort if Republicans got it through Congress.

The Keystone bill, which White House officials have promised the president will veto, passed Feb. 11, but Republicans said they would not officially deliver it to Obama’s desk until this week, when they were back from a break. Their strategy is to have Obama reject the bill when they are in session, giving them the opportunity to rally and denounce the president on the floors of the Senate and House.

Environmentalists have spent years marching and protesting against the pipeline, and have long urged Obama to reject the permit application from TransCanada, the company hoping to build it. White House officials say, however, that the president will veto the bill because it would shift the authority to approve the pipeline from the White House to Congress — essentially reducing the president’s power.

A veto would not mean the end of the Keystone project; rather, it would allow Obama to retain the authority to make a final decision on whether to approve it.

Price said that even though Democrats had voted for the Keystone bill, they would rally behind Obama’s veto to make sure Congress did not override it.

“It’s not just about the substance of the decision,” Price said. “It’s about the blatant challenge of the president’s authority. That’s why the veto will be upheld.”

Republicans and conservative advocacy groups said they intended to denounce the veto of the bill as a rejection of a project that has bipartisan support among most Americans.

The conservative super PAC Americans for Prosperity, partly funded by the billionaire libertarian brothers Charles and David Koch, has already launched a media campaign criticizing the expected veto.

Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, said both parties needed to work together to avoid repeated clashes that ended with a veto pen. A wave of vetoes, he said, serves no one.

“To avoid just vetoing everything and becoming the president of no,” Hoagland said, “he’s going to have to work with Congress, and they are going to have to work with him.”