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Immigration Reform Pushed Ahead of Climate Change Bill in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Over the weekend, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been working on climate change legislation with Democrat John Kerry and independent Joseph Lieberman, said he would suspend his involvement in negotiations on a Senate climate bill due to what he called a "cynical ploy" by Democrats to make immigration reform a higher priority.

A Senate climate bill was supposed to be introduced yesterday, according to a report by Time magazine. White House climate czar Carol Browner said in a statement that the administration would support both comprehensive energy independence and immigration reform legislation, and Kerry and Lieberman said they would continue to work on their bill, according to reports. However, losing Graham, one of the few GOPers willing to address global warming through curbing carbon emissions, makes it less likely that climate and energy legislation will be addressed.

Graham, an opponent of the cap-and-trade plan built into the already passed House climate bill, had been working with the other two Senators for almost six months on a Senate bill focused more narrowly on the electricity sector than the entire economy.
That changed when the Democratic leadership last week began considering moving immigration reform ahead of energy and climate legislation in their congressional priorities. However, because little progress has been made on the issue so far, Graham told reporters April 22, that moving ahead on immigration reform "destroys the ability to do something like energy and climate."

Additionally, moving immigration reform to the forefront appears to smack of political opportunism. As pointed out in a report by Time magazine, Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer are both facing tough reelection contests. Moving forward on immigration reform -- even if it has little chance of becoming law -- could energize Hispanic voters and help both save their seats in November.

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