photo via Senatus
The Senate is a distinguished body, called by some the most "exclusive club in the world." But it's also the place that big ideas go to die and a body that seems to be able to concentrate on only one issue at a time. The flap that blew up this week over what will come next for the Senate--climate or immigration reform--proves the point. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina that is working with Sens. Kerry and Lieberman on climate and energy legislation, has threatened to withdraw his support from his own legislation if Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid doesn't prioritize the climate bill. It's a big showdown in Brooks Brothers suits. The Washington Post today reported that Graham wrote his fellow Senators and expressed his frustration.
In a letter to leaders of the effort to enact climate and energy legislation, Graham wrote, "I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success."
He added, "Moving forward on immigration -- in this hurried, panicked manner -- is nothing more than a cynical political ploy."
For his part, Sen. Reid said he still is committed to passing a climate bill:
"As I have said, I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress. Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it's ready."
The Senate climate bill is expected to set a short-term target of 17 percent emissions reductions from 2005 levels by 2020. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that developed countries reduce their emissions by 25-40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020.
We will find out what's in the bill on Monday.