The White House insisted Thursday that Congress’ inaction on President Joe Biden’s climate agenda is “not going to be the defining factor” in the success of crucial U.N. climate talks next month.
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The comments follow remarks by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry in an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday in which he said if Congress fails to pass legislation containing big climate action, the impact would be akin to President Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord again.
Speaking at the White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden has sent “a message to the world that this is a top priority for him and something he takes very seriously.”
Psaki said “the world watches closely” and leaders “know that we’re working through our legislative agenda, that we’re trying to get these things across the finish line.”
“And I think that indicates the president’s clear commitment and will enable him to have a strong seat at the table, regain the United States’ seat at the table.” she said.
Kerry’s comments came after nine months of intensive climate diplomacy aimed at nailing down the most global commitments of action on climate possible ahead of the U.N. climate summit, which opens Oct. 31 in Scotland.
On another topic, Psaki pushed back against the idea that the Biden administration is potentially opening “a Pandora’s box” with future presidents by rejecting former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege over his documents related to Jan. 6th.
Asked by a reporter if there has been any conversation in the White House about “what might happen one day when the shoe’s on the other foot” and another administration is in charge, Psaki declared, “I can assure you…that this president has no intention to lead an insurrection on our nation’s capital.”
“January 6th was an incredibly dark day, one of the darkest days in our democracy, there was an insurrection on our nation’s capital. What we’re talking about here is getting to the bottom of that. Shouldn’t everybody want to get to the bottom of that?” Psaki asked.
Biden has agreed to a request from Congress seeking sensitive information on the actions of Trump and his aides during the Jan. 6 insurrection — though the former president claims the information is guarded by executive privilege.
Some historians say it might be a a risky move by Biden that could come back to haunt him — and future presidents — by setting a precedent he would have to live by.