The New York Times reported Tuesday night that President Barack Obama’s administration is pursuing a “sweeping” international climate change deal that bypasses the Senate. At a media briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration’s planning was simply taking into account the current “dysfunction in Congress.”
“We would not want to enter a situation where we did try to broker an agreement that did require some sort of Senate ratification and then have that fall victim once again — as so many other priorities have — to dysfunction in Congress,” Earnest said.
According to the Times, Obama is pursuing a “politically binding” U.N. agreement — as opposed to a “legally binding” one that would require ratification of a two-thirds majority of the Senate — that would “name and shame” countries into decreasing emissions of fossil fuels.
The State Department insisted Wednesday that no deal had been reached and thus it would be “entirely premature to say whether it will or won’t require Senate approval.” However, Earnest noted Obama “hasn’t been shy” in his desire to address the issue and it would not be surprising for the president to seek this sort of international agreement.
“The president has articulated a number of times just this year the need to address the threat that climate changes poses both to human health and our economy,” Earnest said. “There are a whole range of ways in which this administration has moved forward to try to address what the president has identified as a priority. … The president hasn’t been shy about trying to lead on the international stage as well.”
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