Lieberman: Pushing climate bill without Sen. Graham is ‘an open question’

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Tuesday opened the door to trying to advance Senate climate legislation without the backing of co-author Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamMcCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Week ahead: Senate defense bill faces delay Week ahead: Uncertainty surrounds ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (R-S.C.), who has suspended his support over his anger with Democratic immigration plans.

“It is an open question now,” Lieberman told The Hill about whether the bill's other sponsors would “launch” the measure without Graham. Lieberman had said in late April that he and co-author Sen. John KerryJohn KerrySenators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Dems see huge field emerging to take on Trump Budowsky: Dems need council of war MORE (D-Mass.) were “not even thinking” about pushing ahead without Graham.

Lieberman, in a short interview, made clear that he and Kerry are still hopeful that Graham will back the climate and energy bill push.

“We are talking to him all the time. . . . He is still supportive of the bill, but because of all the political crosscurrents about immigration reform, he is not yet, as I understand it, prepared to join us in launching it,” Lieberman said.

The three senators have for months been crafting a compromise energy and climate change bill, and had planned to unveil the package on April 26.

But Graham suspended his support because he accused Democratic leaders of planning a divisive, politically motivated immigration fight that will sink the prospects for the climate measure. The bill’s unveiling was scuttled.

Kerry said the senators are keeping their options open. “If immigration stays in a convoluted way, we will consider what we have to do to push the bill,” Kerry told reporters Tuesday evening.

Kerry said that “Lindsey is still working with us very closely.”

“If immigration continues to be on the table, we will have to have that discussion, but we are going to continue to work together no matter what happens,” Kerry said when asked about pushing ahead without Graham. Kerry and Lieberman spoke after leaving a reception hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund that Graham also attended.

Kerry said the bill would be unveiled shortly, but did not provide any specifics, while Lieberman similarly noted that it will be “launched in the foreseeable future.”