Graham: Use of reconciliation for health care will hurt climate effort

Republicans are furious that Democrats plan to use a procedural tactic to complete health care legislation that allows them to skirt GOP filibusters.

Graham praised Obama’s stance on climate and energy issues.

The White House is strongly backing major new support for building nuclear power plants and signaled it will make concessions on offshore oil-and-gas drilling in an effort to attract support for a broader climate and energy plan.

“I have been working with Lieberman and Kerry. We have come a long way on the climate and energy issue. This is one issue where the President has been great. He is saying all the right things to give us a chance to become energy independent and clean up the air and create jobs,” Graham said.

But he said the health care push is putting that effort and others in peril, and suggested a scaled-back effort on health care. “Get a field goal, Mr. President, on health care and then let's go to energy and climate, do financial regulation and let’s try to work together to reform our laws and close Gitmo,” he said.

Republicans say reconciliation is being used inappropriately for heath care legislation. But Democrats counter that the GOP has employed the tactic on numerous occasions, such as passage of former President Bush’s tax cuts and the failed GOP-led effort to allow drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Democrats have formed a plan to complete health care legislation under which the House would pass a bill that the Senate approved in December, and then use the reconciliation process to approve a series of fixes to the measure.