Bicameral Republican Committee Leaders Press Secretary Blinken for Clarity on Climate Policy Leadership Structure

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) are pressing Secretary of State Antony Blinken to clarify the leadership structure of the Biden administration as it sets climate policy on the international stage. 


  • In January 2024, the White House announced that Secretary John Kerry would be leaving the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) role and that John Podesta would “continue to lead […] global climate efforts” by assuming the role of Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy 
  • Rather than nominate Mr. Podesta to the SPEC role, which would require confirmation with the advice and consent of the Senate under legislation signed into law in 2021, President Biden appointed Mr. Podesta to a new position based in the White House that appears to have striking similarities to the SPEC role previously held by Secretary Kerry. 
  • As the Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee described in a March 5, 2024, letter to President Biden, the administration appears to be deliberately evading congressional oversight of its international climate policy by appointing Mr. Podesta to an advisory position in the White House. 
  • The response from the White House Counsel’s office to the Committees stated, “On January 31, 2024, the White House announced President Biden’s appointment of Mr. Podesta to serve as Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. Mr. Podesta now leads interagency coordination of the Administration’s international climate policy agenda.” 
  • It also stated, “Mr. Podesta’s role is not a replacement for SPEC, and the State Department will continue to lead international climate diplomacy, including negotiations, for the United States.” 
  • Despite the White House’s assertion that Mr. Podesta would coordinate “interagency” efforts, he has met with foreign leaders on at least two occasions since assuming his new position. 


“Mr. Podesta’s coordination with the SPEC office and international representation of the United States in meetings with foreign leaders to discuss international climate policy appear to far exceed the characterization of Mr. Podesta’s role in the initial response to the Committees as merely leading ‘interagency coordination’ for the administration’s international climate policy. 

“In light of this apparent overlap of duties between what Secretary Kerry undertook as the SPEC and what Mr. Podesta is now undertaking as a ‘Senior Advisor,’ we request information on the roles and responsibilities of the SPEC and the Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy, as well as information on ongoing or planned coordination between these two entities.” 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.