Democrats were in damage control mode Monday afternoon, trying to keep climate and immigration reform—their two biggest legislative priorities after financial regulation—from imploding before they even make it to the floor.
Climate bill cosponsor Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon to try to allay concerns that a deal he has been working on for months with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is in peril. Lieberman maintained that Graham is still working with them on a climate and energy bill. "This is his priority," said Lieberman (via the Washington Independent), adding, rather inscrutably, "Lindsey Graham will come back to where he is and never left."
Lieberman also said that he had spoken with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday who said "explicitly" that he remains committed to a vote on a climate and energy bill, and expects it to come ahead of immigration. "He assumes that will be before the immigration reform bill is ready," said Lieberman."He knows our bill is ready and the immigration reform bill is not."
Senate Democratic staffers are also dismissing the dust-up, saying that Graham and the press are blowing the matter out of proportion. "I haven't seen anyone locate any quote by Reid where he said he was going to do one before the other," said a Democratic aide, speaking on background. "Neither of them have 60 votes. Those are the facts. Should that math change in favor of one issue or the other, than we'll obviously take that particular one up first."