State denies Obama to bypass Senate with UN climate deal

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The Obama administration denied Wednesday that it is trying to bypass Congress in forming a global agreement to mitigate climate change.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “it is entirely premature to say whether it will or won’t require Senate approval” since the officials haven’t even begun to write a United Nations climate change agreement to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions.

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Psaki’s comments followed a report in The New York Times that said President Obama is working on a voluntary international agreement on climate that would not technically be a treaty, and not require two-thirds of the Senate to ratify.

The report said the agreement would include binding commitments from a previous treaty with new voluntary commitments, which would allow it to skip ratification by the Senate.

The story led to immediate criticism from Republican lawmakers and some Democrats — including Rep. Nick Rahall, who faces a challenging reelection battle in West Virginia. He said he'd do "everthing he could" to stop the deal, and criticized the administration's "go-it-alone strategy."

"Whether it’s the regulatory overreaches that would shut coal out of our energy mix, or this latest end-run around Congress on climate change, these actions cannot stand, and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do everything we can to stop them,” he said.

Republicans said it was just the latest example of Obama's intention to sidestep Congress and take action on his own. Obama throughout the year has said he would use his pen to issue executive orders to create change if Congress did not take action.
 
“Once again, the president is circumventing the wishes of the American people and their elected representatives, and doing so in a fashion that will destroy more jobs,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

Psaki said that the administration is committed to tackling climate change, but suggested a new deal could go to the Senate.

“Our goal is to negotiate a successful and effective global climate agreement that can help address this pressing challenge,” Psaki said in a statement. “Anything that is eventually negotiated and that should go to the Senate will go to the Senate.”

She promised that the Obama administration would consult with Congress on the issue.

This story was updated at 12:09 p.m.