Climate Bill Chaos: WTF is Going On?
As you likely are well aware by now, the Senate climate bill has been postponed after the lone Republican senator involved in crafting the bill, Lindsey Graham (SC), withdrew his support. Graham said he would bail after majority leader Harry Reid made a statement saying that immigration reform would come before climate on the Senate agenda -- and the move has the green blogosphere ablaze with analysis and accusations. Was Graham planning to sink legislation the entire time? Would failure to get a climate bill be Harry Reid's fault? Or the White House's? WTF is going on?Well, the short of it is, at face value, that senator Graham has been uneasy about climate legislation for a little while -- after health care reform passed, he made comments about energy reform being dead in the water, and long before that he'd drawn fire from his own party for working with Democrats and pursuing a bill that would price carbon. But despite that, didn't jump ship until now.
Why now? Because Harry Reid announced he was going to move immigration to the top of the Senate agenda, pushing back energy reform. Conventional wisdom (and pretty obvious analysis) says this is because the passage of the Arizona state immigration law has ignited a firestorm around the topic. Reid, who is running for reelection, is in deep trouble in the polls, and needs to rally Hispanic support in his home state.
So, Reid said he'd tackle immigration, and all hell broke loose (or what amounts to hell in the green policy blogging world). The opinions run the gamut pretty comprehensively -- from those who think Graham actually made the right decision to renounce support to those who think that his "mind-boggling hypocrisy and wholly apparent lack of integrity" are what ruined the bill. The latter is Josh Nelson of Enviroknow, who thinks that Graham was never serious about following through with the bill, and intended to jump ship at some point all along.
Others are lambasting Reid for his self-serving agenda, like Dave Roberts, who notes that it "looks like an ass-covering decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is about to scuttle efforts to bring a climate/energy bill to the floor this year." Finally, Brad Johnson notes that the final call will come from the White House, not Reid:
When it comes to setting the national agenda and leading the Democratic Party, the buck stops at the President's desk, not at Harry Reid's. The real people who need real action on immigration and climate reform need the White House to assert leadership.And though I'll continue to analyze the goings on here, all this chattering may have been overblown (shocking, I know -- that's never happened before), because Joe Romm has sources saying that the bill will most likely be put in play first by Reid after all. If Graham doesn't come back to the table then, Nelson may have been right, and the bill may be lost. But I think this behavior seems pretty typical of Graham, and that if Reid acquiesces, we'll be back on track.