March 8, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) questioned Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom about the administration’s recent deposit of $500 million into the United Nations Green Climate Fund.
Barrasso pressed Higginbottom to explain exactly how the Obama administration has the legal authority to divert and reprogram funds to the Green Climate Fund, which is technically a new program.
Higginbottom was testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the U.S. State Department reauthorization.
On the Obama administration’s legal authority to divert and reprogram funds into the Green Climate Fund:
“President Obama unilaterally pledged $3 billion for the U.N. Green Climate Fund.
“Congress hasn’t authorized or appropriated any funding for the new international climate change slush fund.
“The most recent fiscal year appropriations bill provided no funding for the U.N. Green Climate Fund, specifically prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.
“Now media’s reporting this morning that the administration deposited $500 million into the U.N. Green Climate Fund.
“It appears to be latest example of the administration going around Congress because the American people don’t really support what the president is doing with this initiative.
“So if the media reports are true, this is a blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars.
“So first, did the administration deposit $500 million in the United Nations Green Climate Fund?
“So when was that done?
“Tell me how the administration was able to divert and reprogram funds in order to meet the president’s unilateral promise?
“The United Nations Green Climate Fund is a new program. Given the Congress’ prohibition of funding new programs, the question is what legal authority that you at the State Department believe to have to make the transfer?
“And given the prohibition, do you agree that actions by the State Department officials violate the Anti-Deficiency Act, which comes with criminal and civil penalties? And I think you’re going to have to deal with that.
Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Ms. Higginbottom on Reprogramming Funds for Green Climate Fund.
On misuse of taxpayer dollars and overfunding in State Dept. budget:
“With regard to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, members of Congress are expected to be good stewards of taxpayer funds—not be providing funding to agencies that’s not needed.
“It raises serious concerns then that the U.S. Department of State has at least $500 million sitting around in funding that is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was approved. Whether you had the legal authority or not to move it, you’ve chosen to move $500 million from programs for which it was approved.
“So if funding is no longer needed for the original purpose, then the money really should be returned to the U.S. Treasury.
“It is clear that this committee must take a closer look at the State Department’s entire budget and resource allocation if millions, $500 million of surplus funds intended for specific programs are suddenly available to be spent on other priorities.
“So my question is, what specific accounts were so overfunded allowing you at the State Department to divert these funds to the United Nations Green Climate Fund?
“What exact accounts were then overfunded to be able to move the money out?
“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. And this will come to additional concerns raised to you and those who work at the State Department for this mismanagement.
“The United States’ national debt currently is $19 trillion.
“We have struggling communities across this country in need of help.
“There was a debate in Flint the other night and I just think it’s hard to explain to taxpayers in struggling communities across our country – even places like Flint – that the president and this administration is willing to give $500 million as a handout to foreign bureaucrats instead of addressing real problems here at home.”
Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Ms. Higginbottom on Overfunding in State Dept. Budget.