Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said today that Democrats might push climate legislation before immigration reform, depending on which bill is ready first.
Reid's comments come as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is threatening to withdraw his support for climage legislation if Democrats moved on immigration first. Graham has been negotiating with Democrats on both issues.
“As I have said, I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress," Reid said in a statement responding to Graham's threat.
"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," Reid added.
Democrats had reportedly decided to start with immigration reform, believing it had more political benefit than climate legislation and an easier path through Congress.
Graham said in a letter today that such a decision would cost Democrats his support.
“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," Graham said. "I deeply regret that election year politics
will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy
The majority leader praised Graham for working with Democrats on both issues, but also reprimanded him for "playing one issue off of another."
“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," Reid said.
"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."