"The Chinese don't need 60 votes"

Sen. Lindsey Graham warns that the Communists will "eat our lunch" if we don't get a climate bill passed

Published February 3, 2010 11:32PM (EST)

Lindsey Graham doesn't appear to be listening to the South Carolina Republicans who deem him a traitor to the GOP. He hasn't backed down on his support for climate change legislation -- if anything, judging by a speech he gave Wednesday in Washington, he's stepped it up. Of particular note, he even pushed back on President Obama's speculation during a town hall meeting on Tuesday that it was "conceivable" that a cap-and-trade bill might have to be considered separately from an energy bill.

I like the president. I'm having a hard time finding common ground but we're trying. One of the issues that I think we have some common ground on is trying to come up with a rational energy independence policy married up with climate change policy that will clean up the air but make money doing it and create jobs in the process ... There was this idea floating around yesterday -- don't know how serious it is -- that somehow it would be wise for Congress to do an energy bill only. I don't think that's wise.

The reason I don't think that's wise is that "it is a kick the can down the road approach." It's putting off to another Congress what really needs to be done comprehensively. I don't think you'll ever have energy independence the way I want it until you start dealing with carbon pollution and pricing carbon. The two are connected in my view-- very much connected. The money to be made in solving the carbon pollution problem can only happen when you price carbon in my view. So if the approach is to try to pass some half-assed energy bill and say that is moving the ball down the road, forget it with me.

And if climate change and green jobs aren't enough of a motivator, how about the specter of Chinese competition!

At the end of the day we need a comprehensive approach that would allow this country to jump start its economy and lead the world to a cleaner environment. Every day we wait in this nation China is going to eat our lunch. The Chinese don't need 60 votes. I guess they just need one guy's vote over there -- and that guy's voted.

The Chinese don't need 60 votes. You know gridlock in the U.S. Senate is bad when a Republican senator compares it unfavorably with autocratic decision-making in the People's Republic of China!

Grist has the full transcript. I found myself nodding my head to it more than I have become accustomed to with the utterances of currently serving Republican senators. Which undoubtedly explains why the good citizens of South Carolina are so outraged.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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China Global Warming How The World Works Lindsey Graham