Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has walked away from his months-long effort to saddle the taxpaying public with a new cap and trade national energy tax. Now it appears he’s also walking away from amnesty legislation.
Graham made it quite clear to leaders of his energy coalition in a letter Saturday that he thought a move to amnesty legislation was nothing but playing election year politics with an emotional issue and would kill chances of passing the energy bill.
“Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy,” Graham said in the letter. “I know from my own personal experience the tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort that must be devoted to this issue to make even limited progress.”
The Democrats’ “hurried, panicked” attempt to whip illegal immigration supporters into a frenzy appears to be too much for even Graham — a longtime supporter of amnesty — to stomach.
Graham is now saying if Democrats bring up an illegal immigration bill at all this year, whether it comes first or second in priority before his energy bill, he will not support either.
“I think I have made it pretty clear that if you bring up immigration, you are breaking faith with me,” Graham said.
When asked to clarify if that was the case if his energy tax made it to the floor prior to the amnesty bill, he said, “absolutely.”
Graham has been a long-time supporter of “comprehensive” immigration reform that includes amnesty. He’s earned the nickname “Lindsey Grahamnesty” from conservative radio talk show king Rush Limbaugh.
“Do you think that I would sit on the sidelines and see immigration brought up like this and not object?” Graham told to reporters. “I am not going to have my fingerprints on a political maneuver that could wind up breaking this country apart.”
“Immigration brought up this year is nothing but a political stunt,” Graham added. “It will divide the country.”
Amnesty has little to no chance of passing the Senate this year without Graham’s support. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the other sure-fire Republican amnesty vote, is in a tough primary battle with former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth. There is no possibility that McCain will take up the pro-amnesty mantle again this election year and further damage his re-election chances.
Graham and his good friend McCain know that a window for passing an amnesty bill after the elections — even during a lame duck session when losing Democrats will have nothing left to lose — would be destroyed in the Senate by a heated, contentious attempt to ram amnesty through before November.