Whitfield, Pelosi to Bring House Delegation to Climate Talks

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By Dean Scott and Anthony Adragna

Nov. 18 — A group of Republican and Democratic House members, including Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Joe Barton (R-Texas) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), plan to be in Paris for the international climate talks that are to begin there Nov. 30, lawmakers and aides told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 18.

While a final roster is still being worked out, Whitfield and Pelosi, the former House speaker, have taken the lead in assembling members from their respective parties, with several lawmakers saying they expect to depart around Dec. 5, roughly midway in the two weeks of negotiations that are slated to end Dec. 11.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has authorized the trip to be led by Whitfield, and several Republican members will be attending, a House aide familiar with the plans told Bloomberg BNA. Neither Ryan's nor Pelosi's office would comment on the delegation's travel plans.

Security Top Concern

“I'm going,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told Bloomberg BNA, adding that he is “100 percent certain” he'll be among Democrats arriving in Paris to back the Obama administration's efforts to get a global climate deal.

Cleaver said the delegation's travel plan assumes House members are not impacted by possible changes to security requirements after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that killed about 130 people in Paris. The summit has been scaled back, including the cancellation of several marches that had been planned.

Security concerns are paramount for any congressional delegation traveling to the climate summit. Roughly a half-dozen senators also are mulling traveling to the talks, most of them Democrats hoping to back President Barack Obama's efforts on climate.

Senate Plans in Flux

Pelosi led the delegation that traveled to the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit when she was speaker of the House.

In the Senate, Democrats including Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), and Ed Markey (Mass.) are hoping to travel to the Paris talks.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told Bloomberg BNA last week he is considering a trip to Paris to back U.S. efforts to get the first truly global climate deal agreed to there.

But Cardin said Nov. 17 his chamber's delegation would not be set until the Senate's schedule became clearer and until security concerns had been resolved (218 DEN A-15, 11/12/15).

“Obviously the events in Paris this week have caused us to see how things develop,” the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Bloomberg BNA. “We're open to whoever wants to go.”

Among Senate Republicans, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a long-time critic of the Obama administration's efforts to sign onto a global climate deal, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 17 he will not make the trip.

“I know that Cardin invited me to go on his [delegation],” Inhofe said, but added that he declined.

Cardin then told the Republican senator, “Maybe that's for the best.”

Upton, McMorris-Rogers Won't Attend

Back on the House side, several senior House Republicans told Bloomberg BNA they will not attend the climate talks.

Those include Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-Wash.), chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus; Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a member of Upton's committee who attended the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, told Bloomberg BNA he would like to go but was still gathering information on who was likely to attend.

Some Republicans indicated they would make the trip, including Barton, the former chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We'll just show the delegates that there's an alternative view to what President Obama is saying,” Barton said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dean Scott and Anthony Adragna in Washington at dscott@bna.com and aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com