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Republican Moderates Jeer Paris Accord Withdrawal

In rare statement, Obama joins Democrats in criticizing U.S. removal from pact

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo panned President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo panned President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Some moderate Republicans in Congress have come out against President Donald Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, saying it would lessen the country’s leadership role internationally.

They were joined by the former Democratic president who helped seal the deal: Barack Obama.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo called the decision to withdraw the U.S. from a pact aimed at combating climate change one that would “discourage American innovation.”

The Florida Republican went further, criticizing Trump for joining the only two countries in the world that haven’t signed on.

“Something’s not right when @POTUS is putting our country on a list with bad hombres Bashar al Assad of Syria and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua,” Curbelo said on Twitter.

Nicaragua and Syria are the only other countries not to have signed on to the agreement.

Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Meehan, another GOP moderate, joined Curbelo in saying that the decision would “diminish America’s leadership role on the world stage.”

But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan commended the president on the withdrawal, calling the accord “raw deal.”

“In order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage production of American energy,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement.


The Paris agreement requires nearly every nation in the world to take actions to combat climate change by mandating countries to report greenhouse gas emissions, of which the United States is the second-largest polluter. Its aim is to limit a global temperature rise by 2 degrees Celsius.

The international agreement went into effect in November.

Trump said the country would stop implementation of the accord, effective immediately, including parts he said are costing the country a “vast fortune.”

He cited expected losses for the paper, cement, iron and steel, coal, and natural gas industries if the U.S. remained a part of the global pact as a collective reason to withdraw.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the agreement an “unattainable mandate” and continued to blame the Obama administration for what the Kentucky Republican called “an assault on domestic energy production and jobs.”

Despite announcing the withdrawal, Trump said he would be willing to work with congressional Democrats toward re-entering the Paris pact, or toward a brand-new emissions accord before calling them “obstructionists,” which got a chuckle from the anti-Paris-pact guests assembled in the Rose Garden on Thursday.

Democrats unsurprisingly panned the move.

Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin in a statement called Trump’s decision “a shocking reversal of American global leadership and transparently political, the clearest sign yet he will do whatever he can to dismantle President Obama’s legacy purely for the sake of it.”

Obama also chimed in himself, making a rare statement on a decision by the Trump administration.

“Even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got,” the former president said.

Ahead of Trump’s announcement, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul said in a CNN interview that American jobs should not be sacrificed when the science on climate change remained unsettled.

“Why did we change the name from global warming to climate change?” Paul said. “Because there’s some uncertainty now whether it’s getting warmer or colder, and I can tell you that if you look at the details of the modeling and the projections in the last 15 years, they have been altered almost every year because their modeling doesn’t add up.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that pulling out from the accord “defies the overwhelming support for action from credible scientists, the governments of 194 different countries and many religious groups.”

“If President Trump wants nations like China and India to take stronger and swifter action on climate, then he should do so through the accountability and enforcement provision in the Paris Agreement, not by breaking our work and storming out of the room,” the California Democrat wrote.

John T. Bennett and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.Contact Rahman at or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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