WASHINGTON — The Canadian company TransCanada went to court Tuesday to use eminent domain to force Nebraska landowners to give their property for the Keystone XL Pipeline, as the Senate moved closer to approving the controversial project.

The Senate engaged in contentious debate over Keystone on Tuesday, with Republicans voting to bury Democratic amendments seeking to require that oil pumped through the pipeline stay in the U.S. and that only American iron and steel to be used in its construction.

TransCanada, meanwhile, filed court papers in nine Nebraska counties to start the process of forcing access to the private lands the company says are needed for the pipeline to pump Canadian crude to the Gulf Coast. A 2012 Nebraska law grants the foreign company the right to use private property for the project through eminent domain but set Thursday as the deadline for TransCanada to get started.

TransCanada filed eminent domain actions against 86 Nebraska landowners, holdouts who have rebuffed the company’s offers for use of their land.