Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has withdrawn his support of a new climate change bill, which means the legislation won’t be unveiled today, as originally planned. Graham withdrew his support because of what he said was a “cynical political decision” by Democrats to advance immigration legislation first.
Graham said he has become convinced that Democrats have decided to push for an immigration overhaul in an effort to mobilize Hispanic voters, a key political bloc, and that only a focused effort on a climate and energy bill could ensure its passage. He said he did not see how the Senate could pass a climate and energy bill this year if Senate Democratic leaders and President Barack Obama push for immigration reform.
“The political environment that we needed to have a chance [to pass the bill] has been completely destroyed by the push for immigration reform,” Graham said. “What was hard has become impossible. I don’t mind doing hard things. I just don’t want to do impossible and stupid things.”
Graham’s support is viewed as critical to win the votes of Republicans. Still, the Los Angeles Times reports that Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who planned to unveil the climate bill in a news conference with Graham today, may push it without his support. Kerry and Lieberman are still optimistic, however, that Graham will return as a sponsor.