By Ben Geman - 04/26/10 04:51 PM EDT
The criticism from Republicans for Environmental Protection comes after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday threatened to abandon the energy and climate legislation he’s crafting with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).
Graham is furious that Democrats might move ahead first with immigration legislation, which he calls an election-year gambit that would scuttle chances for advancing the energy and climate measure.
"Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman have spent a great deal of their time and political capital on a good-faith effort to craft and build support for a truly bipartisan bill that would strengthen energy security, boost the economy, and reduce pollution. It is Majority Leader Reid's responsibility to make sure all of that effort and goodwill are not wasted," Jim DiPeso, the environmental group’s vice president for policy and communications, said.
The climate and energy bill was slated to be unveiled Monday. But the rollout was postponed amid the immigration flap, leaving the bill in limbo as Kerry and Lieberman try and bring Graham back into the fold.
Reid on Saturday called energy and immigration reform equally vital to the nation’s economic and national security. He has not made a firm commitment about the sequencing of the measures, but hinted Saturday that a climate and energy package might be closer to the floor than an immigration bill.
“I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress. Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it's ready,” Reid said. “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.”