Graham: Energy First, or I Walk

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Lindsey Graham has made his opposition to taking up immigration reform before a climate and energy bill well-known. On Saturday, he made it clear that if Democrats go that route, he’s walking away from the work he’s done with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a comprehensive package.

The Hill reports that Graham sent a letter to supporters saying that he will be “unable to move forward” with the energy and climate plan they’re expected to roll out on Monday if it falls behind immigration on the list of legislative priorities. Graham quitting his work on the bill would send negotiations into a state of chaos; he’s as of yet the only Republican publicly engaged with Democrats in writing legislation.

From Graham’s letter:

Recent press reports indicating that immigration—not energy—is their priority have not been repudiated. This has destroyed my confidence that there will be a serious commitment and focus to move energy legislation this year. All of the key players, particularly the Senate leadership, have to want this debate as much as we do. This is clearly not the case.

I am very disappointed with this turn of events and believe their decision flies in the face of commitments made weeks ago to Senators Kerry, Lieberman and me. I deeply regret that election year politics will impede, if not derail, our efforts to make our nation energy independent.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement affirming his commitment to addressing both issues this Congress, noting that they are “equally vital to our economic and national security and have been ignored for far too long.” But Reid also made it clear that he plans to move on whichever piece of legislation has the support to pass. “As I have said, I am committed to trying to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation this session of Congress,” said Reid. “Doing so will require strong bipartisan support and energy could be next if it’s ready.”

As for Graham, Reid said:

I appreciate the work of Senator Graham on both of these issues and understand the tremendous pressure he is under from members of his own party not to work with us on either measure. But I will not allow him to play one issue off of another, and neither will the American people. They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other.

What this means for Monday’s anticipated roll out of a climate and energy bill isn’t clear. “Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time,” Graham wrote. “I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend