So What’s Next: Climate or Immigration?

Filed in National by on April 26, 2010

Well, today was supposed to be the first day of the rest of our lives, climate change legislationally-speaking. John Kerry, Joe Leiberman, and Lindsey Graham were set to publicly unveil their “tripartisan” climate change bill today, at least until Graham decided to walk away. Now, it has been indefinitely postponed.

The reason for Graham’s defection seems to be a source of great confusion on Capitol Hill. It really all comes down to what will end up being the next legislative priority (after FinReg) in the Senate: climate change or immigration. Up until last week, the answer seemed to unquestionably be climate change. Just as health care was a national priority that needed to be addressed ASAP while the only party willing to do so had power, climate change is a global priority that also needs to be confronted. Late last week, however, word started to get out that immigration reform, not a climate or energy bill, would be next in line for the Senate:

Despite a new bipartisan push on climate change, legislation on the issue is unlikely to make it to the Senate floor this year, two Senate Democratic sources tell CNN.

The main reason sources say the prospects for the legislation are dim is because Senate Democratic leaders have decided to try to put immigration reform first on the agenda, and after that there likely won’t be an appetite for another politically divisive issue before November’s election – especially with a Supreme Court nomination ahead and a desire to stay focused on the politically potent issue of jobs.

The hubbub in Arizona may have played a part in bringing immigration reform back to the forefront, but another state probably played a bigger role — Nevada. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in the midst of a difficult re-election campaign, and immigration reform could be a big help in a state where one quarter of the population is Hispanic. The biggest problem right now, though, is that no one really seems to know what is going on.

A number of different stories quote unnamed “Democratic sources” as saying that immigration reform will be the next priority, while reports from official sources are all over the place. Brad Johnson at ThinkProgress has a pretty good rundown.  Reaction to the news is equally varied, even within individuals. Everything from Jonathan Chait being outraged, but understanding of Lindsey Graham’s anger, to Ezra Klein being sympathetic to Graham, but also cognizant that Reid might be making a cold, but accurate, call.

A person’s view seems to depend on how vital they see tackling climate change, and what they thought the chances of the different bills passing was. And bear in mind, the House has already passed a climate/energy bill, whereas nothing has been done yet in regards to immigration. Since, with Graham’s support, it looked like a climate bill had a real chance to pass, I’m of the opinion that it’s a poor trade to sacrifice saving the planet for saving Harry Reid’s ass. On the other hand, immigration reform, while less likely to actually pass, will work as a much better campaign wedge issue to help hasten the decline of the Republican Party. So, it’s got that goin’ for it. What do y’all think? Should the Senate keep plugging away on a climate bill, or dump it for immigration reform?

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A lifelong Delawarean who has left-of-center views -- and he's not afraid to use them.

Comments (51)

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  1. cassandra_m says:

    In many ways, this climate change bill is pretty damn bad — bipartisan or no. Any climate *change* bill that provides subsidies to the old, and dirty technologies (nuclear and fossil fuels) is not worth the climate change name. Although I see quite precisely what they are trying to do politically, extending subsidies to the old and dirty technologies is just plain stupid.

    One of the things to think about is what would happen if they did pass a climate change bill. What kind of fight gets set up with the House, who passed one almost a year ago and is better than this one (but not great by a long shot) and do you get a bill after that fight?

    Immigration certainly helps Reid, but also helps Dems all over who get to remind people of the Party of Intolerance.

  2. I’m not sure if I support this climate bill. Obviously I haven’t seen the details but I think it had pretty much been gutted.

  3. anon says:

    “Kill the bill!”

    Come on, say it – you know you want to.

  4. Von Cracker says:

    i was really hoping it would be the Fairness Doctrine followed by emigrating conservatives to those concentration camps outside of San Fran, as it was promised in the “secret” email.

    After that, maybe double-shot Abortion Tuesday?


  5. jason330 says:

    …75% top tax rate? It could happen.

  6. Frieda Berryhill says:


    This bill would implement an emissions cap on several sectors of the economy, as well as give $10 billion to “clean coal” projects and support the construction of 12 new nuclear power plants ALL FAILED TECHNOLOGIES AND it is ENDORSED BY THE ELECTRIC GIANTS LIKE EDISON and the biggest 3 OIL COMPANIES.

    We are being taken to the “cleaners” if this bill passes.

  7. anonone says:

    If not nuclear in place of carbon fuels, what technologies do you propose will satisfy the world’s energy requirements?

  8. fightingbluehen says:

    just another failed attempt to fleece working Americans out of more money, in order to perpetuate this administrations Ponzi scheme.

    They need the money to finance health care and other social programs, and the only way their scheme will work is if all the money grabbing plans i.e. cap. trade, wall st. reform, value added tax system, etc. take place.

  9. Scott P says:

    I don’t say this often or lightly, but fightingbluehen, you’re an idiot. If you have nothing to add, just stay at home in your sandbox and let the grownups work. You might as well have written, “Obama come, eat my brain” and it would have made just as much sense. You don’t like the fact that liberals are in charge and are actually trying to solve problems, instead of just sitting around bitching about them — I get it. But next time, how about at least make an attempt to make a coherent statement — not just paranoid right-wing nonsense. Besides, Schwartzie might get mad that your stepping on his toes. 🙂

    Damn, I think I need my coffee.

  10. Wow, I like it when Scott stops being nice.

  11. fightingbluehen says:

    Who the hell are you Scott P ? I’m sorry that you don’t agree with my assessment, but that’s the way I see it. Saw it from the get go.
    Funny thing, when you get to a certain age, you begin to have the luxury of seeing some of your hunches, and predictions take shape over the years. I think I do have something to add Scotty p, and it’s my 46th birthday today, so I consider myself an adult.

  12. fightingbluehen says:

    Oh, and one other thing. f%&# off

  13. Scott P says:

    A) Happy Birthday!!!

    B) Intellectual maturity has little to do with age. I know plenty of physically mature persons who don’t act or think like grown-ups.

    C) The fact still remains that not one part of your statement was factually correct. Republicans enact Ponzi schemes (that’s how Bush exploded the deficit), Democrats pay for their programs. A Ponzi scheme by definition is one that is underfunded. Which recent Democratic initiative is not paid for? In fact, one of the big right-wing arguments against ACA was that it brought in funding first, before it started paying benefits! That’s actually the opposite of a Ponzi scheme.

  14. Cut it out Scott, FBH is clearly smarter than all climate scientists (he took a class 25 years ago) as well as the entire CBO. You’re small potatoes compared to that.

  15. pandora says:

    What assessment, FBH? The assessment that Dems not only try to fix things (govern) but actually put plans in place to pay for them? Yeah, I know, paying for things isn’t a Republican strong suit.

    And using your age as a trump card merely shows you’re getting old, not that you’re an adult. 🙂 BTW, Happy Birthday.

  16. fightingbluehen says:

    My assessment is that it’s all about economics. It’s an elaborate scheme to perpetuate another boom cycle in our economy without it ending up in another bubble, a “green bubble”. It goes way deeper than this though, and it’s roots run back to the tech bubble, I will be happy to elaborate when I have more time.

  17. Geezer says:

    “I’m sorry that you don’t agree with my assessment, but that’s the way I see it. Saw it from the get go.”

    When one’s head is lodged where yours is, the view never changes. As is so often the case, HL Mencken said it best:

    “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”

    In this case, substitute “assessment” for “solution” and bingo! — a perfect explanation for your inability to analyze this on an adult level.

  18. a.price says:

    in all fairness, Clinton should have vetoed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. yes it was passed by a republican congress, but he just let the peice of legislation that led to the financial collapse go through.

    anyway. I think the mess in Arizona will force the deal and Immigration will be next.
    I have 2 thoughts on this.
    number one is my certainty that the Right will oppose anything short of total deportation for everyone who doesn’t have their papers stapled to their forehead… and in many cases they will call into question the legitimacy of the papers (especially if the people are brown.) Keep in mind, the right wing of this country has NEVER sided (and they LOVE dividing and choosing sides) with anyone other than the privileged white. I dont need to run down the whole list. you all either know it, or deny it exists.

    Im going to say right here and now that any illegal immigrants who are also criminals … drug dealers, kidnappers, etc should be deported. Aside from that, the people who jsut want to work hard and build a life should be given a clear and solid path to citizenship. We have so many people who are citizens by birth who dont do shit for this country. If we have people willing to risk their lives to do our crap jobs that have to be done, we should welcome them with open arms.

    “but A.Price, we DO” said the un informed Teabag
    no we dont. the immigration process in this country is awful. we are also missing an opportunity to improve our country through socialist means. I’ve said before that in order to be given citizenship, immigrants should give one year of service. NOT MILITARY SERVICE (unless they really want to and it can be proven they aren’t a spy or something) but at-home community service. I am actually of the opinion that ALL americans should give service to their country, but the Right wing doesn’t love America enough to improve it for other people unless it is with guns, and in some other country. But i digress. These people (and im mostly talking about those effected by the coming immigration fight) already come here to do hard labor for bad pay.
    I doubt anyone would object to doing basically the same type of work, but in addition to better pay and more protection from exploitation they are also given citizenship. They could bring their families and be given a real stake in the community. Some people who jump the boarder are also qualified to do other jobs, but because they must remain under the radar, that talent goes un tapped. If they are allowed to use those other skills, this country can benefit. Not to mention the additional tax revenue and the labor force that can work not just on the lawns of rich white people, but actual improvements to the community. There is now downside whatsoever to to makeing this policy about inclusion and not punishment.

    The other reason i believe we must “do this right” is the crisis that is currently Mexico. Drug cartels, fueled by american demand for illegal drugs) pretty much run that country. I think it is understated in the American media just how dire the situation really is. WE could find ourselves next door to a failing nation and if we have the image of “keep your problems outta my yard” it will be VERY difficult for us to lend any kind of support. If the worst should happen and the cartels actually take control of Mexico, we need the people (most likely a huge majority) who will oppose a coup to know we stand behind them and will support them any way we can. We can start by saying “if you want to come here we are gonna make it easy for you but you have to do your part, (because natural born americans sure dont)

    Immigration is just on the list of all the things that are troubling with all our neighbors to the south. the demand for illegal drugs fuels the violence keeping that part of the world down. We label some of their leaders as “commies” and refuse to help their country, all the while making it difficult for anyone who wants a better life to come here and get it. It is time for an overhaul not just of immigration, but of our relationship with the entire wester hemisphere south of Texas.

    finally Ed Shultz supports militarizing the boarder. Not sure how i feel about this. any thought?

  19. a.price says:

    and happy birthday FBH.
    Or, I would say that if you produced a birth certificate PROVING this was the day you were actually born. we have no way of knowing the truth otherwise.

  20. sunshine says:

    We cannot afford to not do something about the climate. Not that we should ignore the illegal immigration problem in AZ, but should that be our “main focus”? Aren’t we capable of multi tasking? Believe it or not, there can be more then just one focus. As far as whether it is the above mentioned bill, or another one – improving our environment will not only well, improve our environment, but it will also strengthen our economy. It will create jobs, save consumers money. We will actually see the benefits of what we are doing. I am willing to spend a little to improve the quality of life for my daughter and future generations. Gosh, what could we have done with all the money spent on the war in Iraq???

  21. Frieda Berryhill says:

    So sorry sunshine, but this particular climate bill is not a good one.
    Just think who is sponsoring it. Kerry Graham and Lieberman? What is Kerry doing with Graham and Lieberman? So I read the Bill. Bailout for “clean ” coal and nuclear power. Never mind the problem with the waste , costing Billions for future Generations. Guess who is endorsing the bill. Gen. Electric and three big oil companies. These guys wanna “sell” not conserve.
    The same old boys club that got us into this mess.

  22. fightingbluehen says:

    “Im going to say right here and now that any illegal immigrants who are also criminals … drug dealers, kidnappers, etc should be deported. Aside from that, the people who jsut want to work hard and build a life should be given a clear and solid path to citizenship.”

    You just kicked a bunch of hard working Americans in the nuts.

  23. Mark H says:

    “You just kicked a bunch of hard working Americans in the nuts”

    Whose ancestors were at one time immigrants.
    Or are you referring to the drug dealers who supply America with their drugs? 🙂 If we deport all the drug dealers, the price of drugs skyrocket.

  24. a.price says:

    care to explain how I did that FBH? Or is this just another one of your nonsensical attempts at the English language?

    also, if we legalized marijuana, we could use the free market ant capitalism to beat the cartels.

  25. fightingbluehen says:

    A price, are you saying that, because an illegal immigrant is hard working, and not breaking any laws, they should be granted amnesty ?

    If your answer is yes, than you just kicked some hard working Americans in the nuts.

  26. pandora says:

    Actually, what a. price said was this:

    the people who jsut want to work hard and build a life should be given a clear and solid path to citizenship.

    Not a word about amnesty. But I guess your outrage didn’t hold up to a’s original words so you changed them.

  27. anonone says:

    FBH, allowing more young people to become citizens and work in America is one solution to the Social Security crisis as well as a coming labor shortage.

  28. a.price says:

    It depends on what FBH’s wing-nut definition of amnesty is.
    If it is paying a fairly assessed amount of back taxes, performing some sort of community service, and learning english (yes, learning english) in addition to all the other steps every other immigrant must go through to qualify for citizenship, then I am all for amnesty. I would say I agree with Jesus, Geroge W Bush and every 4th incarnation of McCain on that one. I guess none of those guys are conservative enough though.
    Furthermore, I don’t see at all how that is kicking hard working americans in the nuts. The new legal immigrants will have to compete at the same wages as everyone else. If they are better at the job, they will get it and white people will just have to work harder and perform better. I would LOVE for someone to explain to me how it is anything other than beneficial for our nation to add good people to our citizenry in exchange for more tax revenue and a good work ethic.

    I think the Right Wing’s definition of amnesty is “anything a commie-progressive supports in regard to immigration reform”. remember folks, those brown savages are all lepers!

  29. anon says:

    This labor shortage is only theoretical. Right now there is a labor glut. Solving a labor shortage is one of the easiest problems in economics. In fact it usually gets better on its own. It responds well to traditional supply and demand solutions. It is a good problem to have. We would damage the economy even further by trying to solve a labor shortage before it arrives.

    Actually my (unproven) theory is there is a lot of pent-up demand for retirement. People are putting off retirement because they would rather keep working than cash in at current stock values. As soon as stocks stabilize at a higher level, a lot of people will happily retire and free up some more jobs.

  30. fightingbluehen says:

    You don’t have to use the word amnesty to imply amnesty.
    If someone is here illegally, and is “given a clear and solid path to citizenship” than that is amnesty.
    The clear and solid path to citizenship in America is given to people before they come across the border illegally .

    1.a general pardon for offenses, esp. political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.
    Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, esp. to a class of persons as a whole.
    a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.

  31. anon says:

    There already is a path to citizenship. Go home and pick up an application on your way out.

  32. a.price says:

    “You don’t have to use the word amnesty to imply amnesty” … *blink* *blink* Wow!

    You also don’t have to use the phrase “I’m FBH, and I have not a single SHRED of valid information to convey so I will just spew garbage at everyone and try and seem smart” for everyone to know that is what you are REALLY thinking. BTW, I think I speak for the entire DL crowd when I thank you for opening the door and setting the precedent that whatever YOU say can be taken to mean whatever WE want it to mean. It really saves a lot of trouble actually having to read your ignorant tripe. I can just see you posted and respond to anything i feel like i wanted you to have said. such a good little conservative!

    so point by mind numbingly uninformed point…

    1 – they must pay a penalty in the form of back taxes and community service
    2 – we have done it many times before (cubans, draft dodgers, etc) AND Mexican immigrants are all but refugees….. i guess we should outlaw that too.
    3- is the right wing opposed to forgiveness? because I thought you were the party of God

  33. Geezer says:

    “If someone is here illegally, and is “given a clear and solid path to citizenship” than that is amnesty.”

    Words don’t mean something just because you decide they do. “Amnesty,” in the context of immigration, was the core of Reagan’s plan — a wand was waved and that which was illegal one day was legal the next. The plan debated under Bush asked far more of the immigrants. In short, to put it in technical terms, your head is, as usual, up your ass.

    Try to remember that illegals are guilty of a MISDEMEANOR. Throughout our legal system, wiping your record of a misdemeanor conviction, let alone charge, is routine.

  34. Geezer says:

    “There already is a path to citizenship. Go home and pick up an application on your way out.”

    The waiting list is over three years long. The system is broken in all respects, not merely the ones you realize.

  35. anon says:

    Next: A path for car thieves to keep the car, if they prove they are responsible drivers.

  36. a.price says:

    anon, say something constructive or go home. That was the dumbest thing you have ever said, and i think you know it.

  37. anon says:

    You are wrong – I have definitely said dumber things.

    And I AM home.

    I’m fine with increasing legal quotas. I like the ethnic stew I am seeing more and more.

    But I am making an argument based on economics, and also on the rule of law.

    One, we have high unemployment in the US. The supply of illegal workers is driving down real wages and benefits, which have remained flat or declining for a decade.

    Second, we already have a legal way for people to enter the US, with Congressionally-determined quotas. I’m OK with increasing quotas, but perhaps tied to economic conditions and unemployment rate.

  38. fightingbluehen says:

    “You don’t have to use the word amnesty to imply amnesty”

    I was responding to pandora’s statement, “Not a word about amnesty. But I guess your outrage didn’t hold up to a’s original words so you changed them.”

    All I did was paste the definition of “amnesty” to make my point.
    Are you saying a.price and geezer, that you don’t think I proved my point ?

  39. pandora says:

    Of course you haven’t proved a point. What you did was set up your very own strawman. It’s as if you said, criminals should be punished, and I said, you want the death penalty for all criminals.

  40. Scott P says:

    You have absolutely proven your point — if your point was that you have no idea what the word “amnesty” means.

  41. Geezer says:

    “The supply of illegal workers is driving down real wages and benefits, which have remained flat or declining for a decade.”

    This is true, according to the CBO analysis, only of the lower class. Middle- and upper-class Americans gain financially from illegal immigration, again according to that report (don’t have the link at the moment, sorry).

    “Next: A path for car thieves to keep the car, if they prove they are responsible drivers.”

    Poor analogy. Illegals immigrants are committing misdemeanors, not felonies.

  42. sunshine says:

    America’s history started with immigrants. We as Americans should welcome people from all different countries, religions, races. We should be honored that people come to America for a better way of life. Yes, something needs to be done about criminals…drug dealers, kidnappers etc..not specifically “Mexican” criminals, but all criminals. People who come to America looking for an opportunity are for the most part hard working individuals who contribute to the economy. Would we be having this conversation if the illegal immigration issues were Canadian?

  43. anon says:

    We do welcome people from all different countries, races, and religions. There are a large number of legal ways to come to America including temporary worker programs, and a path to citizenship. For the record, all four of my grandparents were legal immigrants.

  44. Republicans are more likely to be for legal immigration than Democrats,

    We win this issue in the long run. Secure the borders, love the people.

  45. a.price says:

    “One, we have high unemployment in the US. The supply of illegal workers is driving down real wages and benefits, which have remained flat or declining for a decade.”

    that, anon is completely untrue for 99% of jobs. think about the jobs illegal immigrants do. DO you think Americans who were laid off by the service industry, or had good union pay-scale jobs (which are good things) will pick lettuce for 2 dollars an hour? If you allow these hard working people to apply for real, un-exploitative jobs, it will only increase competition and actually drive UP wages.

    sunshine, you are absolutely right. we would NOT be having this issue if our norther neighbors were coming in illegally. Those English speaking white people would be given more of a chance. the ONLY reason the conservatives oppose reform (other than deportation followed by building 50 foot steel electrified wall behind a 20 foot wide flaming moat with fire-proof lazar equipped shark-agators stretching from the Pacific to the gulf) is because the people look different. the argument for suspecting illegals is “you can just tell”. What the hell does that mean?

    FBH, as usual you TRIED to prove a point. However, since you have a Palinesque grasp on facts and reality and the English language, you failed.

    since no one bit last time, and im still interested in what this blogging community thinks… Ed Shultz has been suggesting militarizing the boarder….. I must say I’m stumped on this one. My gut reaction is to be totally against it, since deploying the military on American soil is never something i agree with.

  46. cassandra_m says:

    Militarizing the border? Good grief. The fences hat they built haven’t worked, the high tech Lockheed Martin fence doesn’t work (and costs alot), and the huge investment in beefing up the Border Patrol hasn’t really stopped the flow.

    I wasn’t kidding about dealing with the incentives for undocumented workers to come here in the first place. It is no secret where these folks go to work. Why the government isn’t spending money and manpower on visiting these employers is beyond me. You could start with the farmers in CA, AZ, NM and TX for planting and harvest seasons. And before you deploy these inspectors — make sure that the law is rewritten to ensure that there are real penalties for hiring clearly undocumented workers.

  47. anon says:

    DO you think Americans who were laid off by the service industry, or had good union pay-scale jobs (which are good things) will pick lettuce for 2 dollars an hour?

    No. They will pick lettuce for the Federal minimum wage (at least) and under all worker protection laws.

    And if the lettuce grower can’t stay in business legally, then some other farmer with more respect for the law will take his place.

    And if the price of lettuce goes up, maybe the new price was the correct legal price for lettuce all along.

  48. anon says:

    Once the illegals are legalized, they will lose their competitive advantage in the low-end workplace. Employers will seek to employ a new wave of illegals.

  49. anon says:

    And lettuce picking is a stupid example. There are already legal farm worker programs. Not sure if they are too big or too small, but they exist.

    Go ask an $20-30/hour unemployed roofer or worksite laborer how he feels about illegal immigration.

  50. meatball says:

    Go ask an $20-30/hour unemployed roofer or worksite laborer

    Over paid, like most Americans, including myself.

  51. a.price says:

    yeah, those damn laborers and manufacturers who’s jobs support everyone’s luxurious American life style. they make WAY too much money building the roofs over our self absorbed heads. Looks like in addition to racism we have some classism. If someone does a job that makes them get a little dirty, they should be paid in the table scraps of those who DESERVE a high wage. Like professional athletes and bankers. Meatball, what construction company do YOU work for that pays you 20-30 dollars an hour, cause Im getting my resume together right now! Unless you are figuring in health care benefits, and retirement pay outs and pension plans.. I’m sure none of which they (we) deserve. Roofers should be happy they are allowed to work on the homes of the upper class.