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The Senate climate bill sits on the brink of collapse today after the lead Republican ally threatened to abandon negotiations because of a White House push to simultaneously overhaul the nation’s immigration policies.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been under fire from conservatives for months for helping to shepherd a Democrat-led bid to tackle global warming via a “grand compromise” on energy. But on Saturday afternoon, he signaled the partnership could soon be over.

Graham promised to leave President Obama and Senate Democrats standing at the altar after they started pushing last week for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he called “nothing more than a cynical political ploy” headed into the 2010 midterm elections.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to intervene Saturday during a phone call with Graham. But sources on and off Capitol Hill said their conversation grew heated, and the duo ended up issuing dueling statements suggesting they were still miles apart. Hours later, Graham’s two partners on the climate effort, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), hastily scrapped plans to release the bill today during a press conference with top business, religious and military officials.

With the rhetoric rising, senators and staff scrambled all through the weekend to save the climate measure. Environmentalists also raised their own voice challenging Reid and Obama to do a better job managing the agenda this year if their signature issue is to have any chance of notching the 60 votes necessary to make it to a conference with the House-passed global warming bill.

In an interview Sunday, Lieberman said he, Graham and Kerry plan to meet again today to map out strategy for their legislation, including outreach to the environmentalists and business officials who they have been in closed-door talks with over the last several months.

Graham technically remains at the bargaining table — Lieberman said he had even suggested the trio send their bill now to U.S. EPA to begin the economic analysis –but it is still unclear if his concerns have been satisfied when it comes to where Democrats have placed the immigration overhaul on their agenda.

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