It appears we have an answer to the "with or without Graham" question. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) just issued a statement announcing that they plan to unveil their much-anticipated climate and energy legislation next Wednesday without their Republican ally, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Since the postponement of the roll out, originally scheduled for April 26, the senators say that they've "continued working, moving forward, and talking in great detail with our Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and with the environmental and business communities." They added, "we believe we've made new progress on the path to 60 votes" and "are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year."
Their statement continued to thank Graham for his support, even as he, just this morning, took yet another step back from endorsing action on the measure this year. Yet they say that they will pass the bill this year "with the support of Senator Graham and other Republicans, Democrats and Independents."
They note that "we all understand Lindsey has been busy with the immigration issue." ("Busy," of course, has consisted of him throwing a wrench in the climate effort because he's mad at Harry Reid about the legislative calendar, and then bashing the Democratic immigration plan released last week.) But even if Graham won't be with them at next week's introduction, Kerry and Lieberman lauded his participation in the effort to date:
We appreciate Senator Graham's statement of his continued commitment to passing comprehensive energy independence legislation. Over the past several months we have worked with Senator Graham and he has made a significant contribution to construct balanced legislation that will make our country energy independent, create jobs and curb pollution. Senator Graham has been our partner in building a broad-based coalition of support for legislation that can pass the Senate this year.
In the very least, we have a new due date for the climate bill. Additional details are supposed to be released next week.