WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a new follow up letter, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.-05), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas-10), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, are asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken to clarify the leadership structure of the Biden administration as it sets climate policy on the international stage.

“Mr. Podesta’s coordination with the SPEC [Special Presidential Envoy for Climate] 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 to lead ‘interagency coordination’ for the administration’s international climate policy,” the committee leaders wrote in part to Secretary Blinken.


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 under legislation signed into law back in 2021, would require confirmation with the advice and consent of the Senate, 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 Senate EPW Committee and E&C 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 March 5 letter 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.”

The response 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 claim that Mr. Podesta will coordinate “interagency” efforts, he has met with foreign leaders at least twice since assuming his new role, including hosting the Chinese Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Read the full letter from the four committee leaders here.

# # #