Pelosi, Dems unveil bill to bind Trump to Paris climate accord

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled long-awaited legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions and take on climate change by binding the United States to commitments made under the Obama-era Paris climate accord.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) joined other Democrats in releasing the legislative package in the Capitol, framing climate change as "an existential threat" and promising that the party will move the legislation quickly to the floor.

“The American people know that the … crisis is an existential threat of our generation, of our time, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions,” she said.

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The five-page bill known as the Climate Action Now Act aims to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE from pulling out of the Paris climate agreement reached by the U.S. and other world powers in 2015 under former President Obama. Under the bill, Trump would also have to submit a new plan to Congress outlining how the U.S. will continue to meet the goals established in the Paris agreement.

Trump has said the accord threatens the economic prosperity of industries in the U.S. and that he intends to withdraw from the agreement in November 2020 — the earliest he’s legally permitted to do so.

Since taking office, Trump has allowed his administration to circumvent the carbon-cutting goals laid out by the agreement.

The Democrats’ bill comes from Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorOvernight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows to push for Paris climate goals | Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry at Energy | EPA under attack from all sides over ethanol rule MORE (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a panel that Pelosi created at the start of the year following calls from progressives for a more concerted effort in the Democratic-led House to tackle climate change.

The issue has created some territorial tensions within the party, as leaders of the committees with jurisdiction over climate initiatives have fought to maintain their authority over how Democrats proceed. The tensions forced Pelosi to balance those concerns with those of advocacy groups pressing for a more aggressive approach to environmental protection. She did so by creating the special committee, without giving it the ability to issue subpoenas like other panels.

Castor on Wednesday said tackling climate change is “a moral obligation” facing Congress, framing the new legislation as just the first step of a much broader Democratic effort to address the global crisis.

The bill will be marked up in the various committees of jurisdiction “over the coming weeks,” Castor said, and come to the floor afterward.

The rollout of the bill comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) brought a vote on another climate bill — the Green New Deal — which was designed to put Democrats on the record on legislation lobbied by progressives that’s emerging as a litmus test for 2020 presidential candidates.

Democratic leaders called it a “sham” vote, noting the absence of hearings on the legislation. And Senate Democrats sought to defuse any controversy surrounding the bill by largely voting present on the floor.

The Green New Deal resolution, which many Democrats view as aspirational, at best, largely aims to jump-start U.S. economic growth by transitioning the country’s electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Pelosi has long declined to say whether she intends to bring a vote on the House’s version of the Green New Deal resolution, championed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa MORE (D-N.Y.).

Following a call by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) in early March to hold a hearing on the resolution, Pelosi promised there would be debate on some climate bill, but didn’t say which one.

Ocasio-Cortez herself has not made calls for her resolution to be marked up or brought to the floor. Instead her office is working on new piecemeal bills that would address specific policies laid out in the broader plan. Those bills aren’t expected until early next year, her staff told The Hill.

The climate fight has been decidedly partisan. And the Democrats on Wednesday were quick to bash Trump's intent to leave the Paris climate accord, which he announced as president in 2017.

Rep. Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonFive environmental fights to watch in 2020 Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention What has EPA been hiding about formaldehyde? MORE (D-Texas), chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said Trump's decision to withdraw from that agreement "is both misguided and ill-advised."

"Rather than pretend that the human-induced climate change doesn't exist, we need to do all that we can to work to meet the goals of the Paris agreement," she said.  

The select committee on climate change boasts a number of young freshman members, who used Wednesday's rollout to argue the importance of preserving the environment for the health of future generations.

Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), a 40-year-old former environmental activist, said Congress must "embrace the scientific consensus" that climate change "is driven by human activity" — and inaction by American policymakers "would be catastrophic."

Rep. Joseph Neguse (D), a 34-year-old representing Boulder, Colo., warned that Congress has "a very short runway to avoid very catastrophic consequences for our planet."

And Rep. Sean CastenSean CastenHouse votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Pelosi warns of 'existential' climate threat, vows bold action Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention MORE (Ill.), a 47-year old former clean energy executive, accused Trump and Republicans of "ignoring the single most serious threat to the existence of human life on earth."

"From Normandy to the Cold War, American leadership has been about identifying long-term existential threats to the entire population, and then leading the rest of the world to mobilize around a shared set of goals and values," he said.

"That's what we need."