Rep. Kelly Introduces Resolution with Sen. Lee to Stop Obama Administration from Circumventing Congress on UN Climate Deal

Nov 20, 2015

Concurrent resolution in both houses of Congress affirms need for deal crafted at Paris conference to be approved by Senate

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – today introduced H. Con. Res. 97, a concurrent resolution which expresses the sense of Congress that “the President should submit to the Senate for advice and consent the climate change agreement proposed for adoption at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11, 2015.” The resolution was introduced in the House with 45 original co-sponsors. The Senate companion was introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

The full text of the House resolution can be read here.

Excerpt of op-ed by Rep. Kelly and Sen. Lee at National Review Online:

Looking across the entire globe, the economic cost of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to the extent recommended by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would be “beyond astronomical,” as Bill Gates recently put it.

But it’s not just the exorbitant price tag that makes climate finance a taboo topic. The second reason the Obama administration is loath to publicly acknowledge the central role that money will play in the Paris negotiations is that doing so shifts the focus away from the president and toward Congress.

For months, White House and State Department officials have insisted that President Obama has the legal authority to unilaterally commit the United States to a new climate agreement and that therefore he will not submit any deal reached in Paris to the Senate for its advice and consent.

Setting aside the dubious legal theories concocted to justify this position (theories that flatly contradict the understanding of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that has been universally accepted since its ratification in 1992) there’s one problem with President Obama’s gambit: Only Congress, not the executive, has the power to appropriate money.

Imprudent as it may be, the president is free to promise the world as much money as he pleases in the course of international negotiations. But, without the support of Congress, he is powerless to fulfill those promises.

To ensure that the foreign governments attending the climate talks in Paris are not confused about this point, members of both chambers and from both parties ought to assert with one voice that Congress will not send a dime of taxpayer money to the implementation of any agreement to which the Senate has not provided its advice and consent. 

That goes for the billions of dollars that President Obama has pledged to send to the “Green Climate Fund.” And it goes for any other funds that the Paris agreement would expect the United States to give to developing countries for clean-energy adaptation.

To that end, we will soon introduce a concurrent resolution, with more than 25 Senate co-sponsors and more than 40 supporters in the House, expressing the sense of Congress that an agreement of the cost and character contemplated by the Obama administration in Paris must be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent.

The purpose of this resolution would not be to oppose the president’s plans on the merits, although that’s a debate that we should have. Instead, it would simply clarify that if American taxpayer money is all that it will take to get an agreement in Paris, then it’s also going to require the advice and consent of the Senate.