ICYMI: Rep. Kelly Hosts Special Order on Mandatory Congressional Oversight of Paris Climate Treaty

Dec 9, 2015 Issues: Energy

Warns President Obama against circumventing Congress on deal crafted at UN summit in Paris, ending Friday


WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – hosted a Special Order on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday evening to bring attention to the international agreement currently being negotiated at the ongoing Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France, and to emphasize the constitutionally-mandated role of the U.S. Senate in approving any such treaty. The order was attended by six other House members.

Highlights of Rep. Kelly’s remarks:

“It’s kind of shocking and stunning that a former professor of constitutional law would have a total disregard for the Constitution. I’d like to tell the president that the Constitution is not a suggestion. It is who we are. It is what makes us a successful nation.”

“It is stunning that the legacy of one man would overshadow what’s good for not only our country, but the world. Decisions made by this president and commitments made by this president… he makes the House irrelevant. This is not, by the way, a Republican or Democrat issue. This is an American issue. This goes to the very framework and the very foundation of who we are as a nation.”

“And I would just say to the president, if you go to Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 [of the Constitution], it’s very clearly stated: ‘The President … shall have power by and with the advice and consent of the Senate to make treaties provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur.”

“We’re talking about energy and we’re talking about setting targets and timetables that will be very expensive for hardworking taxpayers’ money. And I would like to remind the president that the money that he’s talking about committing is not his; it belongs to hardworking American taxpayers. This insane idea that somehow there is an endless amount of money to be thrown around the world for whatever reason possible, and knowing that, really, the Paris Protocol is nothing more than a conversation taking place in Paris.”

“This is not what’s good for America; this is what’s good for this administration, and this president. That is not only shameful, it is unconstitutional, and cannot be tolerated. That is why, with Senator Lee in the Senate, and myself, we’ve come up with a concurrent resolution [H. Con Res. 97] that states: any commitment of funds – hardworking American taxpayers’ funds – has got to come before the Senate for its advice and consent.”

“We can debate, and we can talk and we can amend. But what we cannot condone is an executive that has a total disregard for this House and for the Senate. … . If we turn our back on this, what will be next?”

“The Constitution is not a suggestion. It is who we are as a nation. It is what makes us great. It is what allows the people to decide how they will be governed—not the government to decide how the people will be governed.”

“Mr. President: You are the President of the United States; you take the same oath all of us take, and if for some reason you can’t remember what it is, then please a look at it and remind yourself who you are, what you are, and who you represent.”

BACKGROUND: During a White House press briefing on March 31, 2015, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News reporter Shannon Bream whether Congress has the right to approve the protocol negotiated in Paris. He replied: “I think it’s hard to take seriously from some members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about a climate change agreement.”

NOTE: On November 19, 2015, Rep. Kelly and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 97 and S. Con. Res. 25) in the House and Senate respectively to require that President Obama submit to the U.S. Senate whatever agreement he may negotiate at the UNFCCC. The resolution currently has 73 co-sponsors in the House and 33 co-sponsors in the Senate.

That same day, Rep. Kelly and Sen. Lee co-authored a joint op-ed for National Review Online detailing the purpose of their resolution, which can be read here.

On December 1, 2015, Rep. Kelly and Sen. Lee participated in a joint video interview video with The Hill to discuss the importance of their resolution, which can be viewed here.