Biden’s Top Climate Official Rebukes Top Republican For Playing A ‘Game’ During Hearing

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During a hearing this week of a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) — a Trump supporter and the top Republican on the subcommittee — got the chance to question John Kerry, who besides his past work as Secretary of State currently serves as a special presidential envoy for issues of climate change. Kerry’s work is broadly part of the State Department, evidently.

One of Mast’s lines of questioning was about personnel on Kerry’s team, and the Florida Republican asked Kerry to name some key members of the office. Mast characterized Kerry as rebuffing him, but what the seasoned official was trying to communicate was that they’d follow ordinary procedures for staff disclosures.

“Mr. Chairman, don’t just cut me off,” a frustrated Kerry said. “What I’m trying to do is tell you I’m going to follow the process of the State Department, which is normally followed. Where there are circumstances requiring that someone know who the person is, the State Department has complied and done that.” For one, it’s not that difficult to imagine that the emergence of identifying information for individuals in politically sensitive roles could help expose them to threats.

Mast also asked Kerry whether he would be pursuing a U.S. commitment to cross-border carbon trading, which is a process facilitating, in short, a new level of accountability for industrial and other production done, well, outside the border in some given jurisdiction. A new framework in the European Union means importers will have to essentially pay — meaning, give money — for carbon emissions involved in operations behind the goods. They’ll have to purchase “certificates” and then surrender them accordingly.

Kerry said committing the U.S. to such a system was an open question, but Mast and a staffer put down his answer as “yes.”

“Well then you make this a game,” Kerry said. “If you’re turning that into yes when I didn’t say yes, you’re playing games, Mr. Chairman.” Mast seemed to find Kerry’s frustration amusing, mocking that they’d make a “maybe” option for the next time and make it yellow, in reference to traffic lights. Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who spoke after Mast, called the antics with the board where Mast outlined his questions “good theater, but it’s not good legislating, and it’s not necessary oversight, in my view.” Watch below: