Via Fox News: Two Republican senators are accusing the State Department of misusing taxpayer dollars by green-lighting $500 million for a United Nations climate change program without first obtaining congressional approval. The senators now are demanding the department justify the “cloak-and-dagger” contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – even threatening legal action.
Lawyers cannot replace the constitutional requirement that only Congress can appropriate money,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said, adding that he’s demanding a “full legal analysis.”
Gardner, in a statement to FoxNews.com, alleged the department was trying to “wave a magic wand and write a half-billion dollar check to a Green Climate Fund that they admit was never authorized by Congress.” He also vowed to “pursue legislative action that prevents cloak-and-dagger re-programming of money outside of congressional approval.”
At the center of the dispute is whether the State Department abused its authority in shifting funds between an existing program and the climate fund. The Obama administration – despite resistance from congressional Republicans — has committed the U.S. to contributing $3 billion to the fund, a program established by the United Nations to help poor countries adopt clean energy technologies to address climate change. Nearly 200 other nations have agreed to provide $100 billion per year by 2020, from private and public sources.
Along with Gardner, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., maintains Congress has not allocated any funding for what he calls the “international climate change slush fund” and has in fact “prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.”
The State Department acknowledges the funding was never explicitly approved by Congress – but argues the department was within its authority to shift funding to the Green Climate Fund, because Congress did not explicitly prohibit funding the GCF.
Under questioning by Barrasso at a March 8 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom told the committee the funds were diverted from the department’s Economic Support Fund — which provides economic funding to foreign countries — to the GCF after a full review by department lawyers.
State Department spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff also confirmed to FoxNews.com the source of the funding was the economic fund, but could not say from which exact program the money came. And she bluntly addressed the GOP senators’ accusation. “Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No,” she said, adding that department lawyers “reviewed the authority and the process under which we can do it.” The administration, meanwhile, has requested another $750 million for the GCF in its fiscal 2017 budget. Higginbottom also insisted they were not required to notify Congress about the transfer from the Economic Support Fund.
At the hearing, though, Barrasso said the first installment of the $3 billion pledge was “a blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars.”
Read the whole story here.
DCG’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.