Lindsey Graham withdraws support for climate bill, take three
With startling consistency, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) withdrew his support for the climate bill that will bear his name for a third time this weekend, and then reportedly, for a third time, reconsidered.
In mid-December Graham announced he would join Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman in crafting a tri-partisan energy bill that would begin to shift the United States away from fossil fuels. He seemed to withdraw that support before the month was over, saying the way the Democrats passed health-care reform in the House had “made it very hard for Republicans to sit down at the table with these guys.”
Graham soon clarified, promising he would continue to work on the bill. But then in March, when the Democrats advanced health-care reform in the Senate, Graham said on ABC’s This Week: “If they do this, it is going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter.”
A week later, Graham recanted, promising the well was not so poisoned that he wouldn’t continue to work with Kerry and Lieberman on the energy bill.
With the energy bill expected to be announced Monday, Graham withdrew support for a third time on Saturday, now because of immigration reform, which Graham characterized as a cynical political ploy by Democrats to win Latino votes in the upcoming election. Kerry and Lieberman canceled the press conference they had scheduled on Monday.
But only a day later Lieberman was expressing confidence that Graham would withdraw his threat yet again:
Lieberman said Reid pledged to bring the energy bill to the full Senate as soon as possible this year. In a separate conversation, according to Lieberman, Graham reiterated his support for the energy bill once it’s no longer tangled up with immigration legislation.
“Now I’m encouraged,” Lieberman said. Asked when the energy bill might advance, he said, “Sometime soon, as soon as we can get Lindsey on board.”
The Energy Bill is expected to be loaded with concessions to coal, oil, and agriculture to make it more palatable to Republicans and conservative Democrats. Even if Graham were the sole Republican vote, his support would give the Democrats the 60 votes necessary to prevent a filibuster.