Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Graham Pulls Out Of Climate Talks Graham Pulls Out Of Climate Talks

NEXT :
This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member or subscriber? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

ENVIRONMENT

Graham Pulls Out Of Climate Talks

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., today said he is pulling out of climate and energy talks, citing reported plans by the Obama administration and Senate Democratic leaders to move immigration reform ahead of a plan he and Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., have been set to unveil Monday.

"Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time," Graham wrote in a letter today. "I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success."

 

If Graham were to abandon the effort, it could eliminate any chance of achieving 60 votes for the measure. Graham has been the only Republican so far backing the effort, and his support is seen as crucial to also securing the backing of key industry and business groups that would help sell the initiative to centrists in both parties.

Sources say Kerry and Lieberman are being advised by their staff to go ahead with Monday's rollout. Graham is "very unlikely" to attend if so, and his concerns are not likely to be resolved any time soon, a Senate aide close to the talks said.

In his letter, Graham wrote that the administration and Democratic leaders have not repudiated recent press reports "indicating that immigration -- not energy -- is their priority.... This has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year. All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do. This is clearly not the case."

 

"I am very disappointed with this turn of events and believe their decision flies in the face of commitments made weeks ago to Senators Kerry, Lieberman and me," he also wrote. "I deeply regret that election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent."

"Moving forward on immigration -- in this hurried, panicked manner -- is nothing more than a cynical political ploy," the letter also says. "I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress."

He goes on to compliment Kerry, Lieberman "and their staff for the long hours of work," calling them "tremendous partners who have negotiated in good faith and stood ready to make the tough choices necessary to bring forward a comprehensive energy bill."

"I was greatly looking forward to the opportunity to address these issues on the floor of the U.S. Senate as we pushed energy independence legislation forward into law," he wrote. "But it appears President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership have other more partisan, political objectives in mind."

 

Senate Majority Leader Reid responded in a statement that both issues are "equally vital" and "have been ignored for far too long." He also said "energy could be next if it's ready."

"I appreciate the work of Senator Graham on both of these issues and understand the tremendous pressure he is under from members of his own party not to work with us on either measure," he said. "But I will not allow him to play one issue off of another, and neither will the American people. They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other."

Graham has had dozens of calls with fellow senators and the White House regarding his concerns.

"It's unlikely this will be resolved for a while," said an aide close to Graham's thinking on the matter.

The aide said the White House is "aware of what's going on."

Referencing Reid's comments today, the aide said, "We all know that he's going to immigration first. I think they've made that clear."

Top White House climate adviser Carol Browner issued a statement saying, "We believe the only way to make progress on these priorities is to continue working as we have thus far in a bipartisan manner to build more support for both comprehensive energy independence and immigration reform legislation."

She added: "We're determined to see it 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."

Here is the full text of Graham's letter:

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.

Recent press reports indicating that immigration -- not energy -- is their priority have not been repudiated. This has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year. All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do. This is clearly not the case.

I am very disappointed with this turn of events and believe their decision flies in the face of commitments made weeks ago to Senators Kerry, Lieberman and me. I deeply regret that election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent.

I truly appreciate Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and their staff for the long hours of work. They have been tremendous partners who have negotiated in good faith and stood ready to make the tough choices necessary to bring forward a comprehensive energy bill.

I continue to believe our nation's reliance on ever-increasing amounts of foreign oil poses a direct threat to our national security and economic well-being. I know we can create thousands of jobs by pushing for a renaissance in nuclear power, expanded offshore drilling, and unleashing America's innovative spirit. One only needs to look to China and Europe, where 21st Century clean energy jobs are currently being created while we fail to act.

Like you, I share the belief that becoming energy independent and better stewards of our environment are complementary -- not competing -- standards. I was greatly looking forward to the opportunity to address these issues on the floor of the U.S. Senate as we pushed energy independence legislation forward into law. But it appears President Obama and the Senate Democratic leadership have other more partisan, political objectives in mind.

Moving forward on immigration -- in this hurried, panicked manner -- is nothing more than a cynical political ploy. I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress.

In 2007, we spent hundreds of hours over many months with President Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and nearly every member of the U.S. Senate searching for a way to address our nation's immigration problems. Unlike this current "effort," it was a good-faith attempt to address a very difficult national issue.

Some of the major provisions we embraced in 2007 -- such as creation of a Virtual Fence using cameras, motion detectors and other technological devices to protect our borders -- have been scrapped for the time. Other issues we found agreement on at the time, such as a temporary guest worker program, have unraveled over the past three years.

Expecting these major issues to be addressed in three weeks -- which appears to be their current plan based upon media reports -- is ridiculous. It also demonstrates the raw political calculations at work here.

Let's be clear, a phony, political effort on immigration today accomplishes nothing but making it exponentially more difficult to address in a serious, comprehensive manner in the future.

Again, I truly appreciate the tremendous amount of time you have committed to the effort to make our nation more energy independent. I look forward to continuing to work with you so that when the U.S. Senate finally decides to address this issue we will be prepared for battle and confident of a successful outcome in the effort to make our nation energy independent once and for all.

Lindsey O. Graham

United States Senator

Comments
comments powered by Disqus
 
MORE NATIONAL JOURNAL