House Democrats announced Wednesday legislation to make President Trump honor the Paris climate accord, an agreement negotiated by President Obama and subsequently broken by Mr. Trump.
The Democrats announced their bill a day after watching the Senate defeat the Green New Deal in a 57-0 vote.
“Climate crisis is an existential threat of our generation, of our time, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference to announce the Climate Action Now Act.
The bill would recommit the U.S. to the 2016 international climate agreement and set a goal of pushing the U.S. to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions in its economy.
House Democrats’ bill is less sweeping than the Green New Deal, which not only set a goal of zero emissions but also called for a universal jobs guarantee, expanding government health care and other changes to the social safety net.
Republicans, for their part, said they want to keep the focus on the Green New Deal. They announced plans Wednesday to launch a petition drive to force the House to hold a vote on the deal, forcing Democrats to take a stand one way or another. It would take a majority of House lawmakers’ signatures to force a vote.
House Democratic leaders have avoided embracing the Green New Deal, with Mrs. Pelosi placing a greater emphasis on the work her Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will do.
The new Paris bill is likely to be a significant focus for the panel.
Under the Paris Agreement, which the Obama administration signed onto in 2015, the U.S. promised the world that it would curb carbon emissions by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Mr. Obama deemed the deal an agreement, meaning he didn’t submit it to the Senate as a treaty, and it had no compulsory powers.
Mr. Trump announced in 2017 that the U.S. would pull out of the accord. That withdrawal won’t be finalized until Nov. 4, 2020, at the earliest.
The Democrats’ new bill would ban the administration from following through on its withdrawal and would require the president to create a plan on how the country will meet the commitments Mr. Obama made when he signed the accord.
“Mr. President, we’re not withdrawing from Paris,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone said Wednesday. “We want to know what your plan is, and if you don’t have one then we’re going to move forward on our own.”
Democrats’ legislation is not likely to go beyond their own chamber. Indeed, on the Senate side, the debate is not over whether to embrace the Paris accord, but rather how to more firmly defeat it. One option would be to have Mr. Trump submit the accord as a treaty and have the Senate vote on it — presumably failing to ratify it — thus officially defeating it.