Senate Panel Follows House in Targeting Green Fund

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By Dean Scott

June 28 — Senate appropriators June 28 resumed their battle to bar U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund just one week after the House Appropriations Committee launched a similar bid.

A fiscal year 2017 spending bill for the State Department and related agencies includes language that prohibits any use of funds for the international climate fund, which has garnered more than $10 billion in pledges, mostly from richer, developed nations. The bill including the restriction was approved by unanimous consent June 28 by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; it's slated to go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee June 29.

The action is the latest salvo in a Republican-led effort to derail the Green Climate Fund that dates back to 2014, when the Obama administration first pledged to provide $3 billion in total to the fund over a four-year period. Language prohibiting Green Climate Fund spending was included in the House version of the fiscal 2017 State Department spending bill released June 22 by the House Appropriations Committee.

The House bill was to be taken up June 23 by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs but the action was postponed. The subcommittee markup has yet to be rescheduled.

The U.S. made a $500 million payment to the climate fund earlier this year and President Barack Obama requested a total of $750 million for it under his fiscal 2017 budget proposal. The green fund is meant to help developing nations prepare for climate change impacts and pursue low-carbon development.

Despite Republican control of both the House and Senate, opponents of the Green Climate Fund have thus far fallen short of their efforts to block U.S. contributions, including a 2015 effort that was defeated in a close vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The administration has argued that its continued funding of the green fund was essentially permitted under an omnibus spending bill enacted that December. But congressional Republicans continue to dispute whether hundreds of millions of dollars can be allocated each year to the Green Climate Fund without specific permission from Congress.

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