As Juliet Eilperin reports in WaPo, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he’s about to bail on the bill he’s been working on for months:
I want to bring to your attention to what appears to be a decision by the Obama administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.
It’s stupid to have a Dem majority leader from a red state, for the simple reason that his personal political fortunes are frequently going to run counter to the party’s. Reid is facing a perilous reelection battle in Nevada this year. He’s behind by double digits and desperately needs to mobilize his state’s large Hispanic population. So he’s trying to jam immigration through next, despite the fact that there’s no legislative language and nobody thinks it has a chance of passing. As Jon Chait says, Reid’s flail could end up sinking both bills.
I can’t imagine Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — who’s been working long and hard with Graham and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on the legislation — is happy about this. And I can’t believe Obama (or White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) will stand by and let Reid do it. The administration has reaffirmed multiple times in past weeks that they want a comprehensive climate/energy bill this year. Obama himself called it a “foundational priority.” Is he willing to let it get lost in the shuffle in a futile bid to save Reid’s ass? If he does he’ll either look powerless over his own party or insincere about his own professed values and priorities. This is a test of leadership.
UPDATE: A source close to the administration told me that Graham ran his letter by Reid before he released it; Reid still wouldn’t give him assurances that climate would come first.