Making Sense of Lindsey Graham's Climate/Immigration Whining
This post originally appeared on the Washington Monthly.
To a very real extend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) won a key concession yesterday. He just didn't take the good news well.
A few days ago, the conservative senator threatened to kill the climate/energy bill he's been working on for months, because the Senate leadership was weighing whether to do immigration reform first. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he's willing take up climate first, backing down from some of his recent pronouncements.
So, Graham won this round, right? He gave the Democratic leadership an ultimatum: climate before immigration, or else. Yesterday, Reid seemed to give in. This should mean Graham and his tri-partisan climate bill can get back on track, shouldn't it? Alas, no. Brian Beutler has this report:
Tonight, Graham told me that he will filibuster his own climate change bill, unless Reid drops all plans to turn to immigration this Congress.
"Immigration was interjected before we rolled out the [climate and energy] bill not because anybody's serious about passing it, but because Harry has got a political problem with the Hispanic community," Graham told me tonight. "It makes the heavy lift of energy and climate impossible and everybody knows that."
Graham has said for days that he's dropped out of climate/energy talks, but pressed tonight, he said that he will filibuster his own bill if Reid tries to bring it up without tabling immigration altogether.
"If they can do this without me, go ahead.... I am not going to be part of an energy-climate process that has no hope of success," Graham said. "I am not going to let that happen with my vote."
I realize that Graham's recent apoplexy has some credible defenders, and I'll concede that some of his concerns had merit. But I find it very difficult to consider Graham's latest moves evidence of someone who's acting in good faith. Indeed, his latest position hardly makes any sense at all.
Graham worked for month on the climate/energy compromise, and now he doesn't even want to allow the Senate to vote on his own bill. Why? Because later this year, Democrats might take up an immigration reform package.
That would be the same immigration reform package that Graham claims to support, which he said he wanted to see pass this year, and which he encouraged Democratic leaders to step up their efforts on.
And yet, now Graham is prepared to kill both of his own compromise measures, even if they're considered in the order he requested.
The South Carolinian said he won't be part of "an energy-climate process that has no hope of success." But the only person who's guaranteeing that Lindsey Graham's bill has no hope of success is Lindsey Graham.