Was The $500 Million Payment To The UN Climate Slush Fund Legal?
Yesterday I highlighted a Reuters article on Team O giving $500 million to the UN Green Climate Fund, and the article mentioned this
But lawmakers did not block the funds in December after they wrapped up a sprawling budget deal to keep the U.S. government operating through next September.
But, is the payment authorized under law?
(CNS) Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday slammed the administration’s handover of $500 million to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, asking a State Department official how the “handout to foreign bureaucrats” could be justified at a time when there were “real problems” that need to be addressed at home.
Barrasso told Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom he viewed the payment to the “new international climate change slush fund” – the first installment of a $3 billion pledge – as both a misuse of taxpayer dollars and a violation of legislation that prohibits federal agencies from spending federal funds in advance or in excess of an appropriation.
“We have reviewed our authorities and made a determination that we can make this payment to the Green Climate Fund,” she said. “We do not believe we are in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, and clearly our lawyers and others have looked at our authorities and our abilities to do this.”
To which Barrasso answered
“I firmly oppose what the president is doing here and this misuse, I believe, of taxpayer dollars, I think completely in violation of the law,” Barrasso told her.
Here’s the point that rebuts the Reuters article
Barrasso noted that Congress has not authorized or appropriated any funding for the GCF, and that the most recent fiscal year appropriations bill also “specifically prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.”
So, it might not specifically block the funds, but it does block them generally. Nor was it appropriated. What was done, apparently, was to redirect funds from other federal agencies, and Ms. Higginbottom seemed to be unable to answer the question regarding which departments the money came from. Which might well violate funding of Executive Office agencies laws. Furthermore, since the money for the GCF was never authorized by Congress, it violates the law about spending money in advance, since Obama has put the funding request in for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, but they were never approved.
Not that Obama cares. Not that the GOP has done anything to stop him.