Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to block the Obama administration's funding of a $100 billion climate fund under last year's Paris climate deal.
Republican Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma introduced a bill that blocks U.S. dollars from going to the fund through a round-about way involving the status of the Palestinian government.
The bill forces the State Department to acknowledge a 1994 law that prohibits U.S. funds going to the United Nations if the U.N. accepts the Palestinian government as a sovereign state.
"Current law prohibits funding to the U.N. or its affiliated organizations if they allow full membership status to certain groups that the United States does not recognize as a sovereign state, including the Palestinians," the senators said in a joint press release. Recently, the United Nations' climate agency accepted the "State of Palestine" as a full-fledged member, but the State Department has refused to enforce current law, the senators say.
The State Department says it does not agree with their interpretation of the law in question, and says withholding the funds would not be prudent.
"The law is crystal clear," said Vitter. But Secretary of State John Kerry "is setting a very dangerous precedent by putting the Obama administration's political environmental agenda ahead of U.S. law.
"My bill will demand accountability and ensure the federal government upholds the law," Vitter said.
"There is no gray area in the law," Barrasso said. "U.S. funding for this U.N. organization must stop immediately."
"International peace should not be undermined by irrational commitment to the president's climate change agenda," said Inhofe.
The administration already sent $500 million to the fund this year, as part of a $3 billion pledge to help meet the goal of funding the Green Climate Fund $100 billion a year by 2020. The fund would be used to assist small countries with emerging economies to cope with the effects of climate change.
On Friday, the administration issued a joint statement with a number of Nordic countries pledging to meet its commitments to the fund, while saying it will be sending millions of dollars more to help countries meet other aspects of the Paris deal.
Friday's joint statement was between the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.