Summers: Administration can pursue both climate bill, immigration reform

The Obama administration wants to pursue both climate change and immigration legislation, according to a senior advisor to the president.

There is “no either/or” between the two issues, which are “both important,” said Larry Summers, the chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama.

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Summers also said it would be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to determine the chamber’s schedule.

The comments Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” were triggered by Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) threat to pull out of negotiations on a climate bill because of the administration’s pursuit of immigration reform.

Separately Sunday, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered support for Graham’s position and signaled the GOP does not want to take up immigration.

“I just don’t think this is the right time to take up this issue [immigration],” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Graham’s departure would leave the administration without its most dependable GOP partner on both issues.

Graham accused the administration and Senate Democratic leaders on Saturday of playing politics by ditching climate and energy legislation for immigration reform, which could boost turnout by Hispanic voters in this fall’s elections.

Reid quickly disputed the suggestion and said he would not let Graham play one issue off the other.


Summers suggested that Graham is under pressure from business groups that do not want to see a climate change bill move forward.

“I think that even though immigration reform and energy reform are both crucial issues for the business community I think there has been enormous back pressure against the kind of bipartisan cooperation that Graham has engaged in, and that perhaps has made this a more complex situation for him than it otherwise would be,” Summers said.

Summers added that the administration is ready to work “vigorously” with Republican partners on both issues.

He also said it is “overwhelmingly important” to the administration that financial reform pass as soon as possible.

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