Will Health Care Reform Help or Hinder a Climate Bill?


It looks like Congress may finally pass health care reform this week. Environmental advocates have been bemoaning the fact that the prolonged health care debate has tangled up action on climate. But could passage of the bill actually do more to screw up the chances of passing climate and energy legislation? Lindsey Graham – the only Republican actively engaging with Democrats on climate – warned yesterday that moving health care without Republican support may ruin hopes for future bipartisanship.

“If they do this, it’s going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, warning against using reconciliation to move the bill forward.

Among Republicans, Graham is one of the few that the administration might care about. In addition to working with John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a climate and energy package, he’s the basically the lone GOP collaborator on Guantanamo and immigration (though he’s had some harsh words for Obama on that of late, too).

He said, however, that maybe the Obama administration would do well to focus on climate and energy–an area where there is some bipartisan interest in collaboration–before moving to other contentious issues. “This is one issue where the president has been great. He’s saying all the right things to give us a chance to become energy independent, clean up the air and create jobs. But when it comes to health care, he’s been tone deaf, he’s been arrogant, and they’re pushing a legislative proposal and a way to do that legislative proposal that’s going to destroy the ability of this country to work together for a very long time. And that’s not necessary.”

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.