Monday, April 26, 2010

Sen. Graham Pulls Out Of Tripartisan Energy & Climate Deal

Apr 24: After months of backroom negotiations on the highly anticipated rollout of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman (K-G-L) climate and energy bill scheduled for today (April 26, 2010), the Republican leg of the tripartisan effort has pulled out. In a remarkable display of political gamesmanship in the middle of a highly charged political environment in the nation's Capitol, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced Saturday that he would be "unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time." Senator Graham's political maneuvering is apparently based on his belief that the Senate and Administration are no longer interested in energy and climate legislation and instead are more interested in immigration reform and that Congress and the Administration are not capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time.
    Senator Graham's announcement comes amidst an incredibly volatile and politically charged atmosphere in Washington, DC with the recent passage of the controversial health care reform legislation, an upcoming Supreme Court appointee, and major issues on the table including: Wall Street financial reform, dangerous immigration reform unrest in Arizona, and an urgency to address energy reform and climate change legislation -- all in advance of highly contentious mid-term elections in just six months.

    In a letter Graham said in part, "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. . ."

    Graham continued, "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. . . 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."

    Senator John Kerry (D-MA) released a statement saying, "For more than six months, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and I have been meeting for hours each day to find a bi-partisan path forward and build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year. We all believe that this year is our best and perhaps last chance for Congress to pass a comprehensive approach. We believe that we had reached such an agreement and were excited to announce it on Monday, but regrettably external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily.  

    "I remain deeply committed to this effort which I have worked on for more than twenty years. We have no choice but to act this year. The American people deserve better than for the Senate to defer this debate or settle for an energy-only bill that won't get the job done. Senator Graham came forward and has made a significant contribution to both the process and the product. Joe and I deeply regret that he feels immigration politics have gotten in the way and for now prevent him from being engaged in the way he intended. But we have to press forward. Lindsey has helped to build an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders from the environmental community and the industry who have been prepared to stand together behind a proposal. That can't change. We can't allow this moment to pass us by.
    "Joe and I will continue to work together and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics of immigration are resolved. We will continue to work and we will do everything necessary to be ready when the moment presents itself. The White House and Senate Leadership have told us from the start that this is the year for action, and until they tell us otherwise we're pressing forward."

    Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) issued a statement saying, "I want to thank Senator Graham for his contribution to writing the American Power Act and I regret that allegations of partisan politics will prevent us from introducing the bill on Monday [4/26/10] as planned. I know from all of our work over the past year that Senator Graham shares our commitment to this bill that will create American jobs, move us closer to energy independence, and reduce pollution.  I look forward to Senator Graham rejoining our efforts after we work through the concerns that are preventing us from advancing a cause the three of us believe in so deeply. I remain committed to the American Power Act and am excited about what passage of the bill will do to promote energy security and invigorate our economy.  I will not give up and will continue to work with Senator Kerry, Senator Graham, and the broad coalition of industry and environmental support this bill has generated to pass the American Power Act this year."

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a statement indicating his desire to pass both immigration and energy reform this year. Senator Reid said, "Immigration and energy reform are equally vital to our economic and national security and have been ignored for far too long. 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. I have also said we will try to pass comprehensive immigration reform. This too will require bipartisan support and significant committee work that has not yet begun.

    "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. 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."

    Access the complete letter from Senator Graham included within an informative article from the National Journal (click here). Access the statement from Senator Kerry (click here). Access the statement from Senator Lieberman (click here). Access the statement from Senator Reid (click here).