Lindsey Graham Derails Climate Change Bill-Pulls Support

According to The New York Times in a move that may derail a comprehensive climate change and energy bill in the Senate, one of the measure’s central architects, Senator Lindsey Graham, has issued an angry protest over what he says are Democratic plans to give priority to a debate over immigration policy.

Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in a sharply worded letter on Saturday that he would no longer participate in negotiations on the energy bill, throwing its already cloudy prospects deeper into doubt. He had been working for months with Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, on the a legislation, which they were scheduled to announce with considerable fanfare on Monday morning. That announcement has been indefinitely postponed.

In his letter to his two colleagues, Mr. Graham said that he was troubled by reports that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up an immigration measure before the energy bill. Mr. Graham has worked with Democrats in the past on immigration matters and was expected to be an important bridge to Republicans on that issue, as well as on energy.

Mr. Graham said that any Senate debate on the highly charged subject of illegal immigration would make it impossible to deal with the difficult issues involved in national energy and global warming policy.

He said in his letter that energy must come first and that Democrats appeared to be rushing to take up immigration because of rising anti-immigrant sentiment, including a harsh new measure signed into law in Arizona on Friday.

“Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,” Mr. Graham said. “I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress.”

Hours after Mr. Graham released his letter, Mr. Kerry said in a statement that Mr. Graham’s actions had scuttled plans for an elaborate announcement of the proposal, whose passage is a major priority for the Obama administration.

“We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach,” Mr. Kerry said. “We believe that we had reached such an agreement and were excited to announce it on Monday, but regrettably external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily.”

Mr. Kerry said that he was prepared to resume work on the climate measure when Mr. Graham rejoined the discussion. But he said he was uncertain when that would be.

“We will continue to work, and we will do everything necessary to be ready when the moment presents itself,” Mr. Kerry said.

Progress on an energy and climate bill in the Senate has relied heavily on Mr. Graham’s active participation and support. He is the only Republican to have formally endorsed a broad approach to dealing with global warming and energy issues and is needed to try to bring in support from other Republicans.

Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate policy, said that the administration would work to secure bipartisan agreement on both energy and immigration measures this year.

She praised Mr. Graham for his efforts to build a coalition of business and environmental organizations in favor of comprehensive energy legislation. “We’re determined to see it happen this year,” Ms. Browner said, “and we encourage the senators to continue their important work on behalf of the country and not walk away from the progress they’ve already made.”

Mr. Reid has spoken of the importance of dealing with immigration but has not definitively said that it would take precedence over energy and climate legislation. But he has said that the current system is broken and must be reformed.

Mr. Graham wrote that Mr. Reid’s refusal to state explicitly that energy would come first “has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year.”

He said that reducing the nation’s dependence on imported oil and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases were such contentious issues that they required the full commitment of the Senate and the White House. “All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do,” Mr. Graham wrote. “This is clearly not the case.”

Mr. Reid said in a statement that he intended to work on both issues in this session of Congress. “As I have said, I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress,” he said. “Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it’s ready.”

He said that revising immigration law will also require bipartisan support and noted that significant committee work had not yet begun on the issue.

Mr. Reid said that Mr. Graham was under “tremendous pressure” from fellow Republicans not to cooperate with Democrats on either energy or immigration. In a swipe, he added, “But I will not allow him to play one issue off of another, and neither will the American people. They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other.”

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Posted by on April 25, 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Responses to Lindsey Graham Derails Climate Change Bill-Pulls Support

  1. Jess

    April 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    What old Lindsey can’t chew gum and walk at the same time or what? Not like it is only those three working on it or anything. This is just a case of, I am taking my ball and going home because you won’t let me do what I want rule wise. What a schmuck. Every single one of the republicans knows that immigration reform is a loser for them and they don’t want to piss off the whole “Talibangelical (white old Southern man) faction” of their party. I almost feel sorry for them that as a nation we are all getting a nice tanned color. I said almost, so no dogging me 🙂

    =^..^=

    • osori

      April 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      yep demographics on the tinted side.

      • MadMike

        April 25, 2010 at 6:13 pm

        OooYa! Short, concise and to the point.

    • MadMike

      April 25, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      LOL Jess! Almost is good, and the fact that we are getting a tan..well. I the words of the immortal Jerry Seinfeld:

      “Not that there is anything wrong with that.”

  2. TomCat

    April 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Any excuse, no matter how flimsy, is sufficient to provoke GOP opposition.

    • MadMike

      April 25, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      Yep. He was getting pressure from his Right wing buddies and he caved. Coward.

  3. Holte Ender

    April 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I know why Lindsay Graham was pissed off about the Immigration Bill taking precedent, he wants to scuttle that, because who is going to pick all the tobacco in his home State?

  4. Beach Bum

    April 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Excuse Sweet Lindsay, he is taking Colbert’s advice and is making a straight sex tape to chase away nasty rumors about what team he plays on. He is up for reelection in 2012 and can’t be bothered at this moment.