Besides health care reform, one of the most pressing issues on Obama’s agenda has been to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill.
Although early drafts of the bill have been criticized as being “too industry friendly” and ignoring the issue of climate change completely, many feel that if some sort of national regulation isn’t passed this year, it may never be passed at all.
Now that possibility has become even more uncertain, as the New York Times reports that Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), one of the key architects of the tripartisan bill, has issued an angry protest over what he says are Democratic plans to give priority to a debate over immigration policy, and has refused to participate in any further negotiations on the bill.
Many immigration reform activists were shocked when just days ago Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a controversial bill requiring the police to ask people about their immigration status if officers have any reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Senators Kerry (D – MA) and Lieberman (I – CT) had excitedly planned to announce the new climate legislation Monday morning, but have postponed those plans indefinitely following Sen. Graham’s decision.
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 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 (NY Times).
Graham’s involvement on the climate bill was significant, and he was expected to be a bridge for garnering Republican support on the measure, as well as on immigration policy.
Many had hoped that the U.S. Climate Bill would be able to accomplish what the dissapointing Copenhagen conference and countless other global warming summits have failed to do: create strict regulations for the country’s worst industrial polluters, and establish national recognition of climate change as a global crisis.
This latest news might represent the nail in the already weakened climate bill’s coffin, however. Sen. Kerry said that work on the climate bill will be suspended until Sen. Graham was prepared to reenter the discussion, and no one knows when or even if that will happen.
Image Credit: lgraham.senate.gov