Senate panel approves $500M for international climate fund

Senate panel approves $500M for international climate fund
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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday adopted a $500 million spending package for the Green Climate Fund, an international climate change adaptation program.

Members approved the funding, via an amendment from Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEarly tax bill reality very different than Democratic rhetoric Senate GOP seeks to change rules for Trump picks Dem senators tear into Trump: Tax bill 'a very big Christmas gift from Trump to himself' MORE (D-Ore.), Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (R-Maine) and others, on a voice vote, despite strong Republican opposition to the measure.

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The amendment removes language from the committee-approved State Department and Foreign Operations funding bill preventing the State Department from providing money for the fund, a program designed to support poor countries that are impacted by climate change. 

Republicans have opposed the fund for a host of reasons and fought hard to block funding for it during last year’s appropriations process. At the time, they said the funding shouldn't go forward unless the Senate got to vote on the international climate change agreement reached in December. 

A year-end spending deal didn’t fund the U.S.’s contribution to the climate program, but the State Department was able to find $500 million within its budget for it anyway. The Obama administration has promised $3 billion for the program by 2020.  

Merkley’s amendment not only removed the prohibition in the underlying bill, but it also provided $500 million in 2017 for the fund. 

Several Republicans appeared to oppose the amendment, but the committee didn’t hold a roll call vote and approved the amendment on a voice vote. Only Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (R-Alaska) spoke against it, noting the need for more funding for her state to deal with climate change.

“We know we can’t take on this challenge by ourselves, so it's part of the partnership in global leadership to address this significant — this global issue,” Merkley said. 

“This is a real effort in bipartisan cooperation to present this amendment before the committee."