Photo via NY Daily News
Looks like there's been yet another warped development in the ongoing Lindsey Graham is-he-in-or-out-with-the-climate bill saga: When we last left off, Graham (R-SC) had walked away from the clean energy reform bill he helped draft because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved immigration ahead of climate on the agenda, which Reid said he was going to do. But Reid relented, and agreed to do climate first. Which means Graham is back in the game, right? Well, no. Graham is now actually threatening to filibuster his own bill. Concerned that Reid will pursue immigration at all, Graham has now threatened to filibuster his own bill unless Reid says he won't touch immigration at all this year. That's what he told Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler last night:
"Immigration was interjected before we rolled out the [climate and energy] bill not because anybody's serious about passing it, but because Harry has got a political problem with the Hispanic community," Graham told me tonight. "It makes the heavy lift of energy and climate impossible and everybody knows that."Now, we'll still have to wait and see if Graham does indeed come back to the table to issue any final judgments, but it does seem that he's being unnecessarily recalcitrant at this point.
Graham has said for days that he's dropped out of climate/energy talks, but pressed tonight, he said that he will filibuster his own bill if Reid tries to bring it up without tabling immigration altogether.
"If they can do this without me, go ahead.... I am not going to be part of an energy-climate process that has no hope of success," Graham said. "I am not going to let that happen with my vote."
Josh Nelson at Enviroknow has long held the belief that Graham has intended to walk away from the bill for quite some time, maybe even from the very beginning. Others have argued that supporting climate has done too much too much damage to Graham's reputation in the GOP to make that plausible.
Reid's decision to move immigration first was clearly a stupid one -- there isn't even any legislation to move on! -- and was intended primarily to bolster his own profile in his home state race for reelection, which he appears to be losing badly. But there's little more he can do now than put climate first, which he did.
In his defense, he could be trying to get Reid to guarantee the focus will be on climate and won't be interrupted by self-serving attempts to raise his political profile amongst pro-immigration reform voters. Or, as Nelson asserts, he could have found his way out and jumped on it, and is now sticking to it. Or, he may be trying to get on his party's best graces by doing his best to obstruct progress on immigration, which could prove to rally Democratic voters this election year. Whatever the case, Graham seems to be miles away from pledging his support for the climate bill that he helped write.