Senator Graham Pulls Support for Energy Bill
by Charles Lemos, Sat Apr 24, 2010 at 11:34:07 PM EDT
Apparently, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina can't walk and chew gum at the same time legislatively speaking. On Saturday, Senator Graham said that he would withdraw from the bipartisan effort to move a energy bill forward because of concerns that the Democrats would try to push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the energy bill.
The story in the New York Times:
Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in a sharply worded letter on Saturday that he would no longer participate in negotiations on the energy bill, throwing its already cloudy prospects deeper into doubt. He had been working for months with Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, on the a legislation, which they were scheduled to announce with considerable fanfare on Monday morning. That announcement has been indefinitely postponed.
In his letter to his two colleagues, Mr. Graham said that he was troubled by reports that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up an immigration measure before the energy bill. Mr. Graham has worked with Democrats in the past on immigration matters and was expected to be an important bridge to Republicans on that issue, as well as on energy.
Mr. Graham said that any Senate debate on the highly charged subject of illegal immigration would make it impossible to deal with the difficult issues involved in national energy and global warming policy.
He said in his letter that energy must come first and that Democrats appeared to be rushing to take up immigration because of rising anti-immigrant sentiment, including a harsh new measure signed into law in Arizona on Friday.
“Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,” Mr. Graham said. “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.”
I have to admit that I fail to understand Senator Graham's argument on this. Instead of throwing what amounts to a temper tantrum, Senator Graham would serve the nation well if he continued to show the leadership he has shown in trying to forge a consensus on a pressing issue of global importance. This bill is important not just because our economy must reoriented its energy production away from fossil fuels but in fact life as we know it on the planet depends on curbing our carbon footprint. While I share Senator Graham's view that this bill is priority one that shouldn't preclude the Senate from moving forward on multiple legislative priorities. If we can only tackle one issue at a time, our government is indeed dysfunctional.