GOP to hold 'Green Climate Fund' hostage until Obama agrees to submit treaty for Senate ratification

Republican Senators are determined to derail the climate talks next month in Paris and to that end, they have vowed not to approve taxpayer money for a Green Climate Fund that President Obama pledged $3 billion dollars of support to last year.

The money will be withheld until the president submits any treaty coming out of Paris to the Senate for ratification.

The Hill:

“We pledge that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent,” 37 Republican senators wrote in a letter to Obama on Thursday. 

The fund, a pool of public and private money, is meant to help poorer nations prepare for climate change.

A Senate appropriations bill cleared the way for the first portion of American funding earlier this year, but Republicans committed this week to blocking it in a final budget deal.

“When it comes to the financing: I know a lot of people over there, the 192 countries, assume that Americans are going to line up and joyfully pay $3 billion into this fund,” said Sen. James Inhofe, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “But that’s not going to happen.”

Republicans have looked to throw up obstacles in Obama’s path toward a climate accord, but they do not have a clear way to block it. Unless a deal is deemed to be a treaty requiring Senate ratification, it won’t come before lawmakers for a vote. 

But the climate fund, something developing nations have long wanted as part of the climate talks, might give Republicans some leverage — or at least allow them to send a signal to the world about their opposition to a final climate deal.

“It’s important to make clear, I think, to the rest of the world that as these climate talks approach, that Congress has the power of the purse,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said this week.

In his 2016 budget request, Obama asked lawmakers to provide $500 million for the fund, but House and Senate appropriators have given him nothing. Congress has yet to finalize its 2016 spending plan, though the deadline to do so — Dec. 11 — is the last day of the U.N.’s climate talks, symmetry that may give Republicans a chance to complicate the process. 

The previous climate change agreement, the Kyoto Accords, was never submitted to the Senate by President Clinton because of a resolution requiring the deal to include the same terms for China and India be negotiated. That resolution passed 95-0, convincing Clinton that the treaty had no chance to receive the 66 votes in the Senate necessary to be approved.

But Senate approval is a minor speed bump for this president. In other words, he's not going to seek it. Like the Iran deal, the president will bypass Congress and implement the deal anyway. Dubious science aside, there's the little matter of the explicitness of the Constitution when it comes to treaties. To ignore this basic constitutional requirement - again - will also be part of this president's legacy of law breaking.


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