Barack Obama is pursuing a sweeping international climate change agreement that would compel the U.S. and other nations to cut emissions, all without getting the okay from Congress.
While the president may not enter into legally binding treaties without backing from two-thirds of the Senate, he and climate negotiators intend to sidestep the Constitutional rule by agreeing to what they call a ‘politically binding’ deal.
It’s a move that has already infuriated congressional Republicans in coal and gas producing states.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s New York Times report on the proposed deal comes just as a United Nations report on the imminent and irreversible damage of man-made climate change was leaked widely to the press.
‘If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,’ Clinton administration climate change official Paul Bledsoe told the New York Times.
Instead, Obama’s deal would blend legally binding conditions the US already agreed to in a 1992 treaty with voluntary pledges to enact carbon-cutting domestic laws.
In essence, the Times reports, the deal would be an update to the treaty ‘and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.’
For Republican leaders, it was another tiresome example of Obama’s willingness to use executive power to work around Congress.