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

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, yesterday sent a letter pressing Secretary of State Anthony 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 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,” wrote the members.

“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,” the members continued.

Full text of the letter can be found here.


  • 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.