Graham: "I Don't Want to Play Politics"
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicated on Monday that he doesn't want immigration coming up at all this year, even if it comes after climate and energy. Bringing up another contentious issue like immigration, he said, would threaten the fragile balance he has worked to strike on an energy bill. "I'm not going to roll anything out on climate and energy in an environment where it's dead before it starts," Graham told reporters.
Moving immigration reform now would be premature and would divide both Congress and the country, Graham said. "If you bring up immigration this year ... you have really done damage to immigration reform prospects in the future," Graham told reporters Monday evening, following a meeting with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). "Not only have you hurt immigration, you've destroyed any chance of energy and climate having a snow ball's chance in hell."
Graham, Kerry and Lieberman met to try to calm the storm that kicked up around their legislation over the weekend after Graham threatened to ditch work on climate and energy if Democrats decided to move immigration first. Graham accused Democratic leadership of making a "cynical political ploy" by pushing immigration ahead in the queue. The move caused Kerry to call off the scheduled introduction of their bill today to make time to allay Graham's outrage. But following the meeting, it didn't seem like the South Carolina Republican intended to change his mind any time soon.
"Energy and climate is tough. Under the best of circumstances it would be tough, right?" said Graham. "I've got a heavy lift here. So do John and Joe ... I enjoy doing difficult things with serious people that have a chance. But at the end of the day, I don't want to play politics with issues that really do mean a lot to me."