On May 2, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Climate Action Now Act, which would prevent federal funds from being spent on the process of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, an international pact to address climate change. The Act would also task the President with developing a plan for meeting US climate commitments. On May 7, the Act was placed on the legislative calendar in the Senate, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will not hold a vote on the Act.
The Act is an effort by House Democrats to keep the US in the Paris Agreement, which would mean upholding the US pledge to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. President Obama entered the US into the Agreement in 2015. In 2017, President Trump announced his plans to withdraw the US from the Agreement, and on October 24, 2019 he reaffirmed the plan, which could formally begin on November 4, 2019.
Provisions of the Act include those calling for production of reports studying the economic impacts of the Paris Agreement. President Trump says his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement is based on economic concerns that it would damage the US role as a leader in energy exports. Critics of the US withdrawal say leaving the agreement will cause the US to miss an opportunity to lead in the clean energy industry.
Since President Trump’s 2017 statement that he would take the US out of the Paris Agreement, 2,000 businesses, 300 local governments, and 10 state governments have signed a declaration of continued support regardless of federal government actions. The signatories pledge to do their part to minimize global temperature change and maximize the pace of transition from fossil fuels to clean energy technologies.
The Climate Action Now Act was largely symbolic. Even if Senator McConnell had allowed a vote in the Senate, it would have failed along partisan lines. On November 4, 2019—the very first day the US was allowed to do so—President Trump initiated the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The withdrawal will take effect on November 4, 2020.