RPT: Obama Eyeing UN Climate Change Deal Without Congress' Approval
Is President Obama plotting yet another end run around Congress? The New York Times reports that the White House is negotiating a way to sign an international climate change deal without approval from Congress.
The Constitution requires the president to receive approval from two-thirds of the Senate before an international treaty can be ratified.
The New York Times reported that the agreement is slated to be signed at a United Nations meeting next year in Paris. However, because the U.S. Senate is unlikely to ratify any international climate treaty, Obama’s negotiators reportedly are working toward an alternative agreement – a “politically binding” deal that would serve in lieu of a bona-fide treaty.
One expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times “there’s some legal and political magic to this.”
The developments underscore the administration’s dim chances of being able to rally the constitutionally mandated two-thirds majority in the Senate to ratify a new international treaty. But at a time when the House already is suing the president over his alleged abuse of executive power, the move to go around Congress is likely to strike a nerve with lawmakers.
"Once again, the president is trying to go around Congress and ignore Americans who cannot afford more expensive, extreme energy regulations," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the reported developments in a statement on Wednesday.
"Not a word of the new climate agreement currently under discussion has been written, so it is entirely premature to say whether it will or won't require Senate approval," she said. "Our goal is to negotiate a successful and effective global climate agreement that can help address this pressing challenge. Anything that is eventually negotiated and that should go to the Senate will go to the Senate. We will continue to consult with Congress on this important issue."
The Times reported that while the agreement would not have the full force of a treaty, it would “name and shame” countries into cutting fossil fuel emissions.
The proposal was described as a hybrid – combining the legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with “new voluntary pledges.”
By doing so, negotiators reportedly claim the new agreement would not require a ratification vote.
Under the terms, co-signers would have to enact climate change policies but would be on the honor system for cutting to specific emissions levels and sending money to poor countries.
Martha MacCallum discussed the new report with radio hosts Chris Plante and Leslie Marshall. She asked them why the president seems focused on climate change amid the situation with ISIS, including American journalists being held hostage.
Marshall defended Obama going around Congress, saying action must be taken eventually to lower carbon emissions.
Plante accused the president of "holding our system of government in contempt."
"The president just has no use for the branches of government, for the Constitution of the United States. He's the president of the Left wing of his party and it's another hand grenade that he's rolled down the aisle," said Plante, arguing that many Democrats are at odds with the president on cap-and-trade proposals.