By Ben Geman - 04/27/10 09:57 PM EDT
“I don’t want to even consider that at this point in time,” Kerry said when similarly asked about trying to advance the measure without the South Carolina Republican. “We will do what we need to do to get the bill passed, but right now everybody prefers to put this thing back on track, and that is what we are going to try and do.”
Graham has backed away from the joint effort because he’s angry about plans by Democratic leaders to bring an immigration bill to the floor this year. His decision to suspend backing for the climate and energy package scuttled the bill’s planned unveiling Monday.
Reid addressed the issue again late Tuesday. Asked by reporters whether a climate and energy package could come to the floor without Graham’s support, Reid replied, “I need 60 votes.”
Democrats hold 59 seats in the Senate, one shy of the 60 needed to overcome a near-certain filibuster of a climate and energy package. Asked whether a 60th vote could be found without Graham, Reid demurred.
“That is up to Kerry and Lieberman,” he said.
Reid said Tuesday that he intends to bring a climate and energy package to the floor before an immigration bill.
Graham has signaled that he opposes moving ahead with the climate plan as long as immigration reform remains on the table this year. Reid, for his part, said again Tuesday that immigration legislation remains a priority.
As the standoff persists, Kerry told reporters that talks are ongoing about reaching an accommodation that would allow the stalled climate measure to move ahead. “We are working very hard and constructively to pull pieces back together,” Kerry said. “I am very hopeful we are going to get back on track.”