Republicans are furious with President Barack Obama for handing $500 million to a United Nations global warming fund Monday, but lawmakers have no one but themselves to blame for this, according to conservative critics.
“If leadership had wanted to stop it, they could have in the omnibus,” Mike McKenna, a Republican strategist, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But they didn’t, mostly because they didn’t want to stop it, or because it would have been too costly.”
Obama’s funding of the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been highly criticized by congressional Republicans, but those same lawmakers did not put a rider in December’s budget deal prohibiting the administration from repurposing funds for the GCF.
“The failure of Republicans in Congress to maintain the rider prohibiting funding of the Green Climate Fund was just one among their total failure to maintain policy riders in the omnibus appropriations bill,” Myron Ebell, director of global warming and environment policy at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told TheDCNF.
The State Department took $500 million out of their Economic Support Fund account Monday and diverted it to the GCF. Obama has pledged to give the GCF $3 billion over the years, despite congressional opposition. Republicans argue the administration can’t fund the GCF because the December budget bill did not allow the State Department to use any of the appropriated funds for new programs.
“Congress hasn’t authorized or appropriated any funding for the new international climate change slush fund,” Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said in a Tuesday hearing on the State Department’s budget. “The most recent fiscal year appropriations bill provided no funding for the U.N. Green Climate Fund, specifically prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.”
But while Congress didn’t appropriate any funding for the GCF and prohibited the State Department from transferring funds to new programs, the budget deal did not have a rider specifically prohibiting the department from funding the U.N. project.
“Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No,” Deputy Secretary Heather Higgenbottom said during Tuesday’s hearing. “We’ve reviewed the authority and the process under which we can do it, and our lawyers and we have determined that we have the ability to do it.”
Barrasso vowed to sue the EPA if Senate investigators found they broke the law by transferring funds to the GCF, but conservative critics say this could have all been avoided had a rider blocking GCF funding been put into last year’s budget deal.
“The fact that President Obama has now taken money out of other accounts in order to contribute $500 million to the Green Climate Fund should infuriate Republicans in Congress and cause them to demand another rider this year,” Ebell said. “They should also take $500 million out of the accounts that have been raided because the State Department clearly does not need the funding for those programs.”
The question is, however, why didn’t Republican leadership put a rider in the budget deal blocking the GCF? McKenna argues it’s likely they were facing the same political calculation as they did in approving green energy tax credits to get enough votes for the budget deal.
“It is the same kind of thinking that led to extending the tax credits for wind and solar in exchange for nothing,” McKenna said.
Conservative groups criticized Republican leadership last year for supporting a budget deal which extended tax credits for wind and solar power in exchange for lifting the decades-old ban on oil exports. The idea was to get Democratic support for the budget deal.
“Having made that decision, I’m sure leadership does not want to revisit the issue,” McKenna said. “The whole thing is disgraceful.”
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