Monday climate bill rollout scuttled as Graham decides to walk away

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) decision to walk away from Senate talks on climate change and energy legislation  – at least for now – has prompted the measure's remaining architects to scuttle Monday’s planned unveiling of the bill.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who is crafting the bill with Graham and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), announced what he called a temporary postponement and said he remained committed to action this year on a sweeping climate and energy measure.

“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,” Kerry said in a statement Saturday.


“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,” he added.

Graham is upset over Democratic plans to take up immigration legislation this year – he accuses Democratic leaders of pushing forward immigration “haphazardly” and calls it an election-year political gambit.

Kerry praised Graham’s work on the climate effort and expressed hope that he would rejoin the initiative “once the politics of immigration are resolved,” but vowed to press ahead one way or the other.


“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,” Kerry said.

“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,” he said.


Here's Kerry's entire statement:

“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.”