Lieberman: Climate bill will hit Senate floor

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) insisted Monday that the Senate could still take up climate change legislation before immigration reform.

Lieberman said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told him he would bring up whichever measure is ready first. Lieberman said the climate bill he has been working on is ready, while immigration is not.

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"He said to me as explicitly as anyone could: He's going to give the energy bill floor time this year," Lieberman said during an appearance on MSNBC. "Harry Reid said to me yesterday that he will take up whichever of these two bills is ready first and he knows our bill is ready and the immigration reform bill is not.”

The energy bill was thrown into upheaval over the weekend after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) threatened to abandon talks with Lieberman and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on a compromise bill after signals emerged that Democrats might move first on immigration.

Graham was furious over the prospect of immigration coming up before energy, and threatened to withdraw his support over the weekend for the energy and climate bill, dealing a blow to both the energy and immigration measures.

Graham had also been negotiating throughout the year on immigration, but accuses Democrats of moving ahead haphazardly before legislation is ready.

Lieberman said Monday that Graham's position means that immigration legislation is dead for the year.

“In terms of practical politics, Lindsey is the only Republican so far to say he would be willing to work on both energy-climate and immigration reform. He has also now clearly said he can’t and will not do immigration reform this year,” Lieberman said.

“I think that means we are not going to get immigration reform done this year, but we can still do energy and climate, and frankly it is about the best thing we could do to create new jobs this year by this Congress,” he added.

Lieberman said that the public plan to move on energy put Graham in a "defensive position" within his own caucus, but that a "clear understanding" on the legislative priorities for this year could bring the South Carolina senator back to the table.

"So we're working really hard to get this back together," Lieberman said.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room.

Ben Geman contributed to this report.