Graham: Health vote saps red state Dem support for climate change legislation

Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Thursday that Democrats from conservative states will now be less likely to embrace the climate effort now that they've cast a tough vote on healthcare.

"I think it creates risk aversion," he told reporters after the Senate passed a package of changes to the health care law.

Graham singled out Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln, Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   These Democrats will have a hard time keeping their seats in 2018 MORE and Ben Nelson as being less likely to vote for climate change.

"Go talk to Blanche Lincoln. 'Hey, you want to do energy and climate? You want to do immigration?' Go talk to [Jon] Tester, to Ben Nelson, give them a shout-out," he said. "I just think the idea of doing hard things has been tainted because the blowback they are getting on health care has made them risk averse."

Lincoln, who is from Arkansas, faces a tough reelection fight this year. Tester is from Montana and Nelson is from Nebraska.

Graham vowed to continue working on the climate and energy bill he's crafting with Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach GOP probes put new focus on State Will FISA secrecy doom democracy? MORE (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

"Quite frankly our guys are upset, but I am going to continue to work with Kerry and Lieberman to put together a bill on energy and climate that looks at an old problem in a new way," Graham said.

The trio hope to unveil the measure after the spring recess. They are continuing meetings today with business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.