Republicans have squashed President Clinton's efforts to implement the global-warming treaty before the Senate can vote whether to ratify it.
In the first test of support for the pact in the House, treaty proponents Thursday night backed off efforts to strike restrictions GOP leaders had included in the Environmental Protection Agency's funding bill to prevent such a move.
The near certainty of defeat has prevented the administration from even submitting the treaty - which would curb emissions of "greenhouse gases" thought by some scientists to be warming the atmosphere - to the Senate since the pact was drafted in Kyoto, Japan, last December.
Despite an orchestrated campaign by Mr. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to defeat the GOP restrictions as anti-environmental, sentiment against the treaty was so strong - and suspicion of the EPA so high - that supporters admitted they did not have the votes to win.
"The Environmental Protection Agency's activities with regard to greenhouse gases have created suspicion that they would take a backdoor approach to implementing Kyoto. That is a legitimate concern," said Rep. John Greenwood, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who withdrew an amendment that would have untied the EPA's hands.
House Science Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner said signs that the EPA is trying to go around Congress to carry out the treaty keep cropping up.
The Wisconsin Republican pointed to a recent Washington Times story quoting an environmentalist saying a new consent agreement between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Fund was aimed in part at helping utilities plan to start cutting their emissions of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
Statements by Democrats and Republicans alike during House debate made it clear that few support the treaty, as written, or attempts by the administration to start carrying it out. Many legislators noted that the treaty …