WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday approved legislation that would force the administration to remain in the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump’s plans to exit the pact.
The bill from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) was passed largely along party lines by a vote of 231-190. Three Republicans broke ranks to support the measure, but Nevada’s Mark Amodei was not one of them, voting against the bill. No Democrats opposed the legislation.
It marks the first major climate change bill passed in the House in nearly a decade. The chamber passed a sweeping cap-and-trade bill under the Obama administration in 2009 before that effort died in the Senate.
The vote today is largely a symbolic rebuke to Trump, who announced in 2017 that he’d withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris accord the Obama administration helped broker in 2015.
Trump said in a 2017 Rose Garden speech, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” He added, “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.”
But despite his declaration, Trump can’t formally withdraw from the deal until Nov. 4, 2020, which happens to be the day after the next U.S. presidential election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that climate change will be among her top priorities this Congress. She set up a new special committee on climate change earlier this year, putting Castor at the helm.
The “climate crisis is an existential threat of our generation, of our time, a crisis manifested in natural disasters of epic proportions,” Pelosi said at a press conference announcing Castor’s legislation. She called the bill “step one” on the issue.
House Republicans, meanwhile, have blasted the effort as a waste of time, given that it stands virtually no chance of passing the GOP-led Senate or winning Trump’s support.
The legislation included an amendment from Nevada Rep. Susie Lee designed to address drought and water shortages.
“Southern Nevada knows the effects of climate change all too well,” said Nevada Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in a statement issued after the vote. “As a result of extreme temperatures and weather patterns, we could be facing a water shortage in the near future. The water supply at Lake Mead is currently dangerously low and could reach emergency levels by 2020,” Lee said. “It’s long past due for Washington to do something about this crisis, my amendment and this legislation gets us one step closer.”