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House passes climate bill, with few Republican backers

Benjamin Hulac, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The House passed a bill Thursday to block funding for the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and force the White House to share yearly plans of how it will meet its obligations under that deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made the legislation a priority, and three Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the bill.

The measure passed 231-190 after a two-day amendment process and criticism by House Republicans of international climate talks and the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan from left-leaning congressional Democrats to slash carbon emissions, as scientists say is needed to prevent the worst climate effects.

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., voted for the bill.

While the measure will likely die in the Republican-controlled Senate, the bill marks the latest effort by Democrats to underscore the scientific dangers of climate change and the jobs to be had by supporting low-carbon industries.

Before a final vote on HR 9, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that the measure would fail in the Senate because "middle-class Americans" oppose it. "So this futile gesture to handcuff the U.S. economy through the ill-fated Paris deal will go nowhere here in the Senate," he said.

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Republicans who opposed the measure said it would put the U.S. at a disadvantage to other nations, specifically large carbon emitters such as China and India, the No. 1 and No. 3 highest. America is the No. 2 emitter worldwide, but emits far more per citizen than China or India.

President Donald Trump has shown a dislike of international organizations and agreements, questioning the value of NATO, pressing allies to pay more for national defense and, on climate change, attempting to withdraw from the Paris deal.

When he said in the summer of 2017 that he would pull the U.S. from the deal, Trump said, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

Still, the president cannot extract the U.S. from the agreement until November 2020, according to international law. And as Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., said Thursday, the agreement is non-binding and signatories to it can set their own targets to achieve emission cuts.

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