WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of Republican senators on Wednesday called on newly sworn-in President Joe Biden to submit his plan to re-engage the United States in the Paris climate agreement to lawmakers for “review and consideration,” moments after Biden signed an executive order to rejoin the accord.
Biden’s announcement that he would seek to return the United States to the agreement was the centerpiece of a raft of day-one executive orders aimed at restoring U.S. leadership in combating global warming.
However, the senators’ move reflects the deep-seated political divisions over global warming policy that are likely to dog Democrat Biden throughout his presidency as he seeks to drive greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Senator Steve Daines submitted a resolution arguing the president should not be allowed to commit the United States to an international treaty without approval of two-thirds of the Senate. The chamber has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
The resolution was backed by five other Republicans – John Barrasso, Jerry Moran, Roger Marshall, Cynthia Lummis and Mike Crapo.
“At the very least, I urge President Biden to do what the Obama administration refused to do and submit the Paris Agreement to the Senate for consideration as required under the Constitution,” Daines said.
The United States first entered the agreement in 2016, committing the country to cut emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Then-President Barack Obama declined to submit the deal to the Senate for consent, arguing it fell under the previously ratified 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, formally withdrew the United States from the deal last year, part of a broader strategy to unfetter domestic oil, gas, and coal producers.
While Biden is unlikely to seek Senate approval of the Paris agreement, some experts believe he should work to shore up lawmaker support for his climate agenda so it can not be easily undone by a future administration.
“This time around, I think for credibility it’s going to need the buy-in and consultation with Congress,” said Kelley Kizzier, a former EU climate negotiator who now works with the Environmental Defense Fund.
Meanwhile, major trade groups, the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, which had previously opposed or did not show public support for the Paris agreement welcomed rejoining.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Grant McCool)