Lindsey Graham has decided to withdraw his support for the climate bill he has worked on for months because of the timing of when that bill would come to the Senate. Graham has also been working on an immigration reform proposal with Chuck Schumer, but thinks that issue, which appears to be moving to the top of the priority list after Wall Street reform, has been politicized. The row threatens both priorities.
The climate bill had a planned rollout of Monday, but that has been indefinitely delayed:
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is crafting the bill with Graham and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), announced what he called a temporary postponement and said he remained committed to action this year on a sweeping climate and energy measure.
“We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach. 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,” Kerry said in a statement Saturday.
Graham, who actually said “Am I going to write every bill in this Congress?” in response to this, thinks that the push for immigration reform is an election-year gambit and that the bill is being rushed with no legislative language. But that’s not entirely true; Graham has been working for months on an immigration bill with Schumer, and what’s more the McCain-Kennedy language from four years ago provides the basic framework for a bill.
The climate bill, on the other hand, has legislative language that oil companies support and Greenpeace opposes. The bill would exempt agriculture and, seemingly, oil producers from the carbon cap, and would pre-empt both the EPA and state and local laws that regulate carbon emissions. It’s a harmful bill and dropping it is no great loss. The EPA can and should step into the breach.
Graham probably isn’t wrong that immigration is being rushed ahead of energy for a variety of reasons, some of them politically related. But let’s face it – the energy bill didn’t exactly have a slam-dunk 80 votes in hand or anything. And the concessions were so ridiculous that even its core supporters would have bolted. As for immigration, everyone knows the basic contours of that debate, and if Republicans want to vote against the Latino community one more time, Democrats don’t have to respect their willingness to hide it. In addition, Graham just last month challenged the President to write the immigration bill and get co-sponsors. Now, when the White House appears to be doing that, he gets all bent out of shape.
In response, Harry Reid said that both priorities are important and that he hopes to move both this year.
“Immigration and energy reform are equally vital to our economic and national security and have been ignored for far too long. As I have said, I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress. Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it’s ready. I have also said we will try to pass comprehensive immigration reform. This too will require bipartisan support and significant committee work that has not yet begun.
“I appreciate the work of Senator Graham on both of these issues and understand the tremendous pressure he is under from members of his own party not to work with us on either measure. 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.”
I think Graham was dying for a reason to kill these bills where he was the “sensible Republican moderate” on them. This has been his pose for some time, to show to Washington that he’s willing to work across the aisle, but to never actually do it.
In addition, why key issues that even Graham acknowledges are crucial have to take a number to go to the floor of the Senate, with no one allowed to cut the line, is beyond me.