Today was the day that we, the citizens of the United States, were to have a comprehensive climate change and energy bill laid out for us to admire. Sadly this morning, instead the long-awaited bill, we received the bad news that Senator Lindsey Graham walked away from negotiations, postponing the bill’s announcement. One of the chief architects — along with Senator John Kerry and Senator Joe Lieberman — Sen. Graham is outraged at the news that an immigration bill will be taken up in Congress before the climate bill. Sen. Graham wants the earth to go first (and so do we!), so he got up and walked away in protest.
Senator Graham is the only Republican author of the bill and is expected to be extremely important in garnering support from the right during Senate floor negotiations. From the start he’s been adamant that the issues of energy and climate change are entangled and should be addressed in one bill, not separately — much to the dismay of other Republicans. At one point he even remarked to the public that an energy-only bill was a “half-assed” approach that he wouldn’t be involved with.
Now he’s left negotiations for all of the above in peril. In a letter to his co-authors — Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman — he noted, “moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy.” Immigration is at the front of many American’s minds — sadly much more than climate change issues — and with upcoming mid-term elections he believes his peers are looking to gain some constituent support by reforming the system. Graham said that immigration reform is a process proven to go at a snails pace and would eat up the perfect moment for Congress to pass historical legislation to help the environment. And so we wait. Senator Kerry said he would proceed with work on the bill but wait for Graham to rejoin the negotiations before it is announced. Let’s hope they resolve these differences and get on it soon!