There have been reports that the President and Congress have decided to tackle immigration reform before climate legislation, which will likely doom the ability to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year if its true. It’s also completely idiotic since Senators Lindsay Graham, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman have been working on clean energy legislation since last fall. Their bill is ready to go next week. Climate legislation has already passed the House. Immigration reform is nowhere as far as I know. So now Lindsay Graham is threatening to halt his work on the climate legislation if President Obama and Senate leaders move immigration to the front of the line.
I hate to say it, but I can see Graham’s point. I’m pissed just at the idea that Washington could be this stupid, and Graham/Kerry/Lieberman have been working on this for a long time. Excerpts are below, along with the letter Graham sent.
“Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) threatened to abandon his effort to push a climate and energy bill Saturday, saying he will only continue if Democratic leaders promise to relinquish plans to bring up immigration legislation first.”
“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.”
“A source familiar with the negotiations said key players in the climate effort had made “flurries of phone calls over the past twenty-four hours” to ask Senate leaders if they could say they would place the energy bill ahead of immigration. “That was never answered in a satisfactory manner,” the source said.”
“Graham told reporters Thursday he was outraged at the idea that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had raised the idea of bringing up immigration before an energy bill, especially since he and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had spent weeks working on a bipartisan immigration measure and had not been alerted to the change in plans.
“Am I supposed to write every bill for the whole country?” Graham asked. “This comes out of left field.”
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