Graham says Obama has his back on climate bill

Lieberman says bipartisan bill will be economywide

Sen. Lindsey Graham may be under fire from conservatives back home in South Carolina. But the Republican got a personal assurance from President Obama yesterday that the White House is supporting his efforts to craft a sweeping Senate energy and global warming bill.

“The president told me personally he was very open, that nuclear power would be part of the mix, that clean coal would be part of the mix, that he’s for offshore drilling in a responsible way,” Graham said today in describing his Oval Office meeting with Obama. “But we have to have a price on carbon, an emissions standard that’s real, that’s good for the environment and good for business. And I was very pleased.”

Graham’s ties to the White House are pivotal for sponsors of an energy and climate bill as they search for more Republicans willing to work on a key feature of their domestic and international agenda. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday said he has “definite Republican votes” for the bill, though he would not name names or give exact numbers

So E&E News PM (subs. req’d) reported last night.  Again, those who think there is not going to be a bipartisan climate bill in the spring are not paying attention.

And it is going to be an economy-wide bill as Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) explains later in the piece:

Graham described Obama’s message after a Capitol Hill briefing that included 10 other senators and members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a business and environmental lobbying group. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire briefly stopped for the meeting that entailed leading corporate CEOs urging lawmakers to pass a sweeping bill to give them certainty about future environmental regulations.

“This country is in desperate need of a comprehensive energy and climate strategy,” Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co., told reporters after the meeting. “And if we get that done, we can do this in a way that can increase American jobs, will increase our energy security, will improve our balance of trade, and will protect our environment.”

Graham said whether Obama can win more Senate Republicans depends on industry. “I think the message needs to come more from business people,” he said. “We need to get the business community more on board for acting now and more vocal about the consequences of inaction.”

Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are meeting tomorrow to discuss whether to produce an outline of their proposal during the two-week U.N. climate negotiations that start Monday in Copenhagen. But the three senators do not plan to release a full piece of legislation until early next year once they have won over additional co-sponsors.

When they do release their proposal, Lieberman insisted it would not venture into some of the alternative ideas that have recently gained traction on Capitol Hill, including a carbon tax or sector-specific limits only on power plants. “Personally, I don’t think there’s any chance of a carbon tax being this legislation,” Lieberman said.

Staff to Republican Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and George Voinovich of Ohio are researching the idea of greenhouse gas limits only for power plants, perhaps combined with other energy and environmental measures such as efficiency standards for buildings and stronger corporate average fuel economy standards for transportation.

But Lieberman said he remains focused on an economywide approach that covers major energy, transportation and manufacturing companies. “We are not” looking at the sector-specific approach, Lieberman said. “And I hope we don’t get to that because the most sensible way to start this is economywide.”


7 Responses to Graham says Obama has his back on climate bill

  1. caerbannog says:

    Technologically, clean coal is likely to be a non-starter (in this non-expert’s opinion), but politically, it may be necessary to throw some crumbs (or maybe even some bread crusts) at “clean coal” to get this whole initiative moving. If that’s what it takes, then so be it. Definitely the “sausage making” aspect of democracy at play here.

  2. Wes Rolley says:

    I guess that this is why RepAmerica had to run ads in S. Carolina supporting Graham from those who would purge him from the party.

  3. Leif says:

    “Graham says Obama has his back on climate bill” ??? So does that mean that Graham is now leading the charge on the Climate Action Bill and Obama is covering for HIM?

  4. Chris Winter says:

    “We need to get the business community more on board for acting now and more vocal about the consequences of inaction,” said Senator Graham.

    So what’s the latest on the national Chamber of Commerce? Any more defections because of their stance?

  5. Al says:

    I haven’t heard the phrase, “has his back”, before. Is this like, “has his backing”? i.e. Graham is backing Obama on the climate bill? The first paragraph implies the opposite, i.e. that Obama is backing Graham. Maybe if I followed U.S. politics it would be clearer to me, and is not worth a clarification, but I’m just asking anyway.

  6. Sameer says:


    The phrase ‘has his back’ means that Obama is willing to publicly support Graham in efforts to get a climate bill moving through the Senate. Obama’s backing is particularly important in light of the political pressure that Graham is facing from his own party (GOP) for supporting climate change averting legislation.

  7. “has his back” is a way of saying he won’t permit him to be blind-sided.

    Fighters surrounded by enemies will turn back to back to face their opponents (if they trust each other; of they have one another’s “back”). A very strong position to be in, with someone you trust.