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White House may Pursue Climate Deal Without Congress

The Obama administration is pushing back on a report that the U.S. is working to broker an international climate change agreement that could be enacted without approval from Congress.
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The Obama administration is weighing whether or not to pursue an international climate change agreement that could be enacted without approval from Congress, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

Republicans and some Democrats in Congress expressed outrage after The New York Times reported the administration is negotiating a deal to compel nations to slash carbon pollution that would not require Senate ratification.

But Earnest told reporters, "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 priorities have, to dysfunction in Congress.”

The Constitution states that ratification of a legally-binding treaty would require a two-thirds vote from the Senate, a near impossible hurdle in the sharply divided Congress.

According to the Times:

To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.

Both Earnest and State Department officials have cautioned that no agreement has been written and it is premature to speculate whether or not it would require Senate approval.


-- Catherine Chomiak and Andrew Rafferty