Lindsey Graham Throws Hissy Fit: Climate Change Bill Now in Peril
April 25, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in a dramatic fit of pique, declared in an announcement on Saturday, that he will be withdrawing his support for the “tri-partisan” climate change legislation that was scheduled for a major unveiling on Monday. Why? Because Graham is incensed that Senate Democrats also plan to pursue an immigration reform bill this session. Graham called the Obama administration’s focus on immigration reform, “a phony” and “cynical political ploy” to be accomplished in a “hurried, panicked manner.” But Democrats shot back, calling Graham’s hissy fit “phony” and suggested that he was trying to kill any attempt at immigration reform to aid his close friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is in a tight primary battle with tea party candidate J.D. Hayworth.
Whatever the reasons behind Graham’s public announcement, it may kill any chances of climate change legislation for years to come.
McCain has been in close negotiations with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, to put together a comprehensive climate change bill, and all three senators had planned a press conference on Monday to highlight the provisions of the bill. But now that is postponed, perhaps indefinitely. What’s puzzling about Graham’s stance, is that he has consistently pressured President Obama to immediately move forward on immigration reform. And just last month, he co-wrote an op-ed with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), warning that our national security was at risk, as long as Congress stalls on reforming our “badly broken,” immigration policies.
But now that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have indicated they would attempt to pass immigration reform, Lindsey Graham is throwing a fit.
Steven Benen of Washington Monthly’s Political Animal stated the issue best:
“I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Graham’s concerns — all things considered, it makes more sense to me to tackle climate before immigration — but his tactical demands are a little over the top. In effect, Graham is saying, “Do things in the order I prefer or I’ll kill both major legislative initiatives.”
Graham’s letter blasted Democrats for possibly scheduling immigration reform ahead of climate change legislation:
“Let’s be clear, a phony, political effort on immigration today accomplishes nothing but making it exponentially more difficult to address in a serious, comprehensive manner in the future,” wrote Graham. “Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.”
Sens. Harry Reid and John Kerry, as well as the White House, issued responses to Graham’s letter. Reid responded that the senate chamber is capable of performing more than one legislative task at the same time:
“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,” said Reid. “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.”
Sen. Kerry expressed regret at Graham’s sudden about-face:
“Kerry said that he, “Lindsey Graham [and] Joe Lieberman … 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.”
The White House took a more conciliatory tone, in a statement released by climate official Carol Browner, hoping to salvage the legislation, as a major part of President Obama’s domestic agenda:
“We have an historic opportunity to finally enact measures that will break our dependence on foreign oil, help create clean energy jobs and reduce carbon pollution. We’re determined to see it happen this year, and we encourage the Senators to continue their important work on behalf of the country and not walk away from the progress that’s already been made.”
All sides have taken their best shots. And come Monday, another round of rhetoric is sure to ensue.