Graham asked for ‘stepped up’ action on immigration

GRAHAM ASKED FOR ‘STEPPED UP’ ACTION ON IMMIGRATION…. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is so upset that Dems might take up immigration reform this year, he’s prepared to kill his own tri-partisan climate/energy bill. Some of his concerns are reasonable — Graham was told the climate bill would be considered before immigration, and now he’d been led to believe otherwise.

But before anyone feels too sympathetic for Graham, let’s not lose sight of one key detail: Democrats are, to a certain extent, doing what Graham asked them to do.

The South Carolina Republican began working on a bipartisan immigration reform proposal with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last October. On March 11, they met with President Obama at the White House to go over their plan, and get the presidential green light to continue. Soon after, the two senators co-wrote an op-ed insisting that the status quo on immigration policy is “badly broken,” and the nation’s “security and economic well-being depend” on the kind of reform Graham and Schumer are proposing.

It was around that time that Graham publicly stated his hopes that Obama would get more involved in pushing immigration reform, in order to give it a chance to pass this year.

Graham … said Obama’s lack of direction on immigration reform is hampering Graham’s efforts to recruit additional Republicans to the cause.

“At the end of the day, the president needs to step it up a little bit,” Graham told POLITICO on Tuesday.

The president apparently agreed. The West Wing started taking immigration reform far more seriously, and the president even started reaching out to other Republican senators about generating some broader support for immigration reform this year. Obama, in other words, took Graham’s advice.

And now Graham is furious about it. Worse, he’s prepared to kill both the climate bill and the immigration bill because he’s outraged over the latter being prioritized over the former.

In terms of the calendar, I’m generally inclined to agree with Graham’s larger point — given that the climate bill has already passed the House, and so much of the legwork has already been done for the next round, it makes sense to me for the Senate to finish Wall Street reform, then tackle energy, then immigration. I’m even inclined to agree with Graham that Dems are using political considerations, not policy goals, to prioritize between the competing policies.

But by threatening to kill both of the efforts he’s already invested so much time in, Graham is overreacting on an almost comical scale. Graham can’t call on the president to step up on immigration, and then throw a fit when the president does as he asks.

It’s enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, Lindsey Graham wasn’t really serious about either initiative, and last night’s tantrum is the result of a senator who’s negotiated in bad faith.