Senate appropriators agreed to give another $500 million to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, despite initial Republican attempts to prevent the Obama administration from giving any more money to the project.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to give the Green Climate Fund another $500 million in 2017, removing language from a Department of State appropriations bill blocking such spending, reports The Hill.
Republicans were split on whether or not to give more to the U.N.’s green fund, with several on the committee voicing opposition. Republican Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine introduced an amendment with Oregon Democratic Sen Jeff Merkley allowing money for the Green Climate Fund.
The committee passed Merkley’s amendment through voice vote, so there’s no record of which senators opposed or supported funding the Green Climate Fund. The Senate often does this to protect members from political attacks.
“The green climate slush fund is a political stunt to help politicians in developed countries feel good about themselves while their policies raise energy costs and consign millions of people around the world to poverty,” Tom Pyle, president of the free market American Energy Alliance, said in a statement.
“Even more appalling is the fact they did this through a voice vote to protect those who voted for it from scrutiny,” Pyle said. “This is exactly the type of action that has voters so upset with the established political class on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Republicans began vigorously attacking President Barack Obama’s decision to give the Green Climate Fund $500 million in March. Obama redirected funding away from programs meant to fight infectious diseases, like the Zika virus, and funneled it towards the green fund, which gives money to poor countries for green energy and climate programs.
Obama promised to give $3 billion to the U.N.’s green fund, but Republicans say it’s not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, they also argue it violates federal law.
Most recently, lawmakers questioned the legality of the funding, since it’s run by a U.N. body that recognizes the “State of Palestine.” Palestine became a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in March even though it’s not a U.N. member.
A 1994 law prevents the Obama administration from funding UNFCCC activities since it recognizes Palestine as a state, according to Republicans. The State Department, however, has said it still plans on funding the UNFCCC’s green agenda.
“So, the administration found a way to offend our ally Israel, delay the Zika response and, if Congress allows him, add another billion dollars to our national debt. That is a busy month,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford wrote in a May oped for The Daily Signal.