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Lieberman encouraged that energy bill will be on track

Susan Shamel (left), dressed as a coal plant, and Roger Shamel, both of Lexington, Mass., and Geneva Boyer of Newton, Mass., dressed as a polar bear, at an Earth Day concert in Washington. Susan Shamel (left), dressed as a coal plant, and Roger Shamel, both of Lexington, Mass., and Geneva Boyer of Newton, Mass., dressed as a polar bear, at an Earth Day concert in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / April 26, 2010

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WASHINGTON — A day after bipartisan support for an energy and climate change bill appeared to crumble, a Senate sponsor said yesterday he was optimistic the coalition would regroup and lawmakers would consider the measure this year.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said that he was encouraged after talking to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who were at odds over Reid’s suggestion that an immigration overhaul might be considered before the energy bill.

Lieberman said Reid pledged to bring the energy bill to the full Senate as soon as possible this year. In a separate conversation, according to Lieberman, Graham reiterated his support for the energy bill once it’s no longer tied to immigration legislation.

“Now I’m encouraged,’’ Lieberman said. Asked when the energy bill might advance, he said, “Sometime soon, as soon as we can get Lindsey on board.’’

Graham has threatened to withhold support for the energy bill if Senate Democrats opt to deal first with immigration. He accused Reid of a “cynical political ploy’’ in suggesting the change, which comes as Reid faces reelection in heavily Hispanic Nevada, where immigration legislation is a priority.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who worked with Graham and Lieberman on the energy bill, has postponed releasing the legislation today in light of the dispute over what Reid may do with the immigration bill.

Meanwhile, environmental activists rallied yesterday on the National Mall to press Congress to pass a carbon-emissions bill.

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