Funds for Obama climate deal survive in spending bill

In a victory for the Obama administration, the spending package released by congressional leaders on Wednesday won’t block American financial contributions to an international climate fund for poorer nations. 

The bill, greens and Democrats say, doesn’t explicitly appropriate funding for President Obama’s pledged contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). But since the legislation doesn’t formally block money for the GCF either, Obama is expected to be able to use current discretionary funding streams to send American money to it.

“Based on what we have reviewed so far, there are no restrictions on our ability to make good on the president’s pledge to contribute to the Green Climate Fund,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday. 

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The GFC is a pot of public and private money designed to help poorer nations prepare for climate change. Obama pledged last year to spend $3 billion on the fund by 2020, and he asked Congress to appropriate up to $500 million for it in 2016.

Republicans have opposed providing money to the fund, and a House appropriations bill blocked the funding this summer.

During negotiations over an international climate deal, the GOP said it would work to block GFC money in any omnibus bill unless the Senate got a chance to vote on ratifying the climate agreement.

“Congress will weigh in on whatever comes out of the Paris climate talks, and the money that the president has requested as part of his budget,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGoonies, Pokemon and ‘transsexual shake’ speak to raucous scene at convention GOP passes rules vote over outcry from Trump opponents Overnight Healthcare: Feds defend ObamaCare's affordability MORE (R-Wyo.) said in November. “Congress will have a say.” 

Democrats were able to include an amendment allowing the funding in a Senate spending bill. 

Neither language was included in the omnibus spending bill leadership released early Wednesday morning. But that allows Obama to move funding from other spending areas to the GFC if he wants to, fund supporters say. 

“This is a rebuke to those congressional extremists who tried to play politics with desperately needed money to help the world’s poor take climate action,” Friends of the Earth senior analyst Karen Orenstein said in a statement Wednesday. “Morality and reason, rather than science-denying isolationism, prevailed in this case.”

—This post was updated at 5:34 p.m.