New Energy secretary cancels Paris trip amid mass strikes against Macron proposal

New Energy secretary cancels Paris trip amid mass strikes against Macron proposal
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Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette canceled a planned trip to Paris amid ongoing civil unrest over French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronWith US sidelined, Macron's hubris and hypocrisy are on full display French prime minister resigns as Macron reshuffles Cabinet Trump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report MORE’s planned changes to the country’s retirement system, according to The Associated Press.

French unions reportedly launched the nationwide strikes Thursday, shutting down the Eiffel Tower and about 90 percent of high-speed commuter trains. Several cities, including Paris, saw marches involving thousands of people. Although they were largely peaceful, police fired tear gas at masked demonstrators who smashed store windows in Paris, the AP noted.

The strike also grounded about 20 percent of flights at Paris’s Orly Airport, according to the news service. Authorities in the city barricaded the presidential palace as protesters assembled around the Gare de l’Est train station.

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Police also ordered all businesses and restaurants closed and banned protests in neighborhoods in close proximity to the presidential palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Parliament.

The strikes have echoes of the “yellow vest” protests that began in France in October of 2018 by demonstrators who claimed that the government’s tax reforms, including an increase in fuel taxes, were disproportionately burdening the working class.

Brouillette was confirmed last week to succeed Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryTexas cities say state is making pandemic worse Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Ernest Moniz Trump issues executive order to protect power grid from attack MORE but has not yet been sworn in.

“Unfortunately, due to unforeseen official engagements and travel concerns related to the transit strike in Paris, Secretary Brouillette will not be attending the IEA Ministerial in Paris as originally planned," an Energy spokesperson told the Hill.

"He is confident that the United States will be well represented by ... Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, Ted Garrish," the spokesperson added.

— This report was updated at 12:48 p.m.