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Senate climate bill loses Graham’s support over Democratic plan to push immigration instead

April 25, 2010

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dropped a bombshell Saturday when he announced that he was withdrawing his support from the climate change and energy bill he negotiated with Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Media reports indicate that Sen. Graham is unhappy with the majority’s plans to pursue an immigration bill before the energy and climate bill.

Kerry and Lieberman cancelled Monday’s scheduled news conference but have evidently decided to press on, according to the Washington Post.

Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) raised the idea of bringing up immigration legislation before an energy bill, and President Obama on Friday criticized Arizona’s tough new immigration law and said Congress must act on immigration or risk leaving the door open to “irresponsibility by others.”

In an interview, Graham said he has become convinced that Democrats have decided to push for an immigration overhaul in an effort to mobilize Hispanic voters, a key political bloc, and that only a focused effort on a climate and energy bill could ensure its passage.

Democrats denied that election-related considerations were driving the focus on immigration, and the White House, Reid, and Kerry and Lieberman said they would continue to press ahead with the climate and energy effort.

It remains to be seen what will happen with climate change and energy now that the Senate bill’s Republican cosponsor has jumped ship.  The Boston Globe quoted White House climate czar Carol Browner.

“We’re determined to see [climate legislation] happen this year, and we encourage the senators to continue their important work on behalf of the country and not walk away from the progress that’s already been made,’’ she said in a statement.

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