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US Senators: Obama’s Climate Deal Will Have ‘No Force Or Effect’ Without US Approval

Timothy Cama and Devin Henry, The Hill

Three senators introduced a resolution Thursday stating their objection to the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

“The international community needs to be aware that the U.S. Congress and the American people do not support President Obama’s international climate agenda,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in statement announcing the resolution.

The resolution, from Inhofe and Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), says the Senate believes any climate deal reached in Paris will have “no force or effect” in the U.S. unless lawmakers consider it first. The resolution also looks to block U.S. funding for an international climate financing program unless the Senate takes up the deal.

It comes less than two weeks before world leaders meet in Paris to hash out a deal to cut global greenhouse gas levels and combat climate change.

Republicans and opponents of the talks have long said the Senate should get a say in the deal, while the Obama administration has looked to avoid sending a climate accord to a hostile Congress.

The issue of the need for congressional review came up again last week when European officials objected to Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement about the legal status of any final climate deal. Supporters of the talks say the debate is mostly over semantics, and that Congress won’t end up getting a say. But opponents of the talks are looking to publicize their objection to them nonetheless.

“The U.S. Senate must be able to exercise its constitutional role to approve any agreement that emerges from the Paris climate talks,” Manchin said in a statement.

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GOP: NO CLIMATE FUNDING, EITHER: Republicans looked to further cement their opposition to the climate talks on Thursday, writing a letter to the White House expressing opposition to President Obama’s $3 billion commitment to an international climate change fund that will be considered during the UN conference.

Thirty-seven Republicans, led by Inhofe and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). said they will look to block Obama budget requests for the climate change fund unless the Senate gets a chance to vote on the overall climate deal.

“We therefore request that you direct [chief U.S. climate negotiator] Todd Stern to be forthcoming with his foreign counterparts representing developing nations in Paris about the views of members of Congress,” the senators wrote.

“He must provide these nations with the full picture of where a co-equal U.S. branch of government stands on these issues. He must explain that Congress will not be forthcoming with these funds in the future without a vote in the Senate on any final agreement as required in the U.S. Constitution.”

Obama said last year that the U.S. would pledge $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund, which looks to provide $100 billion for developing nations to mitigate the impact of climate change by 2020.

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