Senate immigration reform bumps Monday unveiling of climate bill delayed as Graham gets wet feet.
In a direct response to the Senate leadership's decision to move forward with immigration reform instead of climate and energy legislation, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has effectively pulled out of the bipartisan or, 'tripartisan,' group of senators working to pull together a climate bill--at least temporarily.
The long awaited bill Graham had been working on with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was scheduled to be unveiled on Monday.
"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," said Senator John Kerry in a statement on Saturday.
Graham was not happy that the congressional leadership and the White House had decided to put immigration reform before comprehensive climate and energy legislation, calling the move “nothing more than a cynical political ploy.”
“This comes out of left field,” said Sen. Graham, adding that Republicans haven’t done anything to prepare the body of the country for immigration.”
Concerned that the Senate would have time to take up both immigration and climate/energy before November, Graham said he deeply regretted that "election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) defended the decision saying that he is still committed to passing climate and energy legislation, but that the Democrats also see immigration as a critically important part of their agenda.
“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," Reid said. Graham has also been working with Democrat Charles Schumer of New York on immigration reform.
"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. John Kerry said that he and Lieberman would continue to build support for a climate and energy bill even though it has been bumped in favor of immigration reform. "Joe and I deeply regret that he feels immigration politics have gotten in the way," said Kerry, adding that he was hopeful Graham would come back on board "once the politics of immigration are resolved."
"The White House and Senate Leadership have told us from the start that this is the year for action, and until they tell us otherwise we’re pressing forward,” said Kerry.
"We can’t allow this moment to pass us by."Photo Credit: PicApp/Getty Images