Bickering Politicians Declare Drought Bill Dead
The Sacramento Bee reported on the ongoing California drought bill talks. Apparently it didn’t go well:
Angry California Republicans threw in the towel late Thursday, conceding that a California water bill that had divided the state was dead for the year.
In a remarkably acrimonious ending to negotiations that once seemed close to bearing fruit, GOP House members acknowledged the bill’s failure while putting the blame squarely on California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
“It’s dead, unfortunately,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in an interview Thursday afternoon, adding in a later statement that “our good faith negotiations came to naught.”
The utter collapse of negotiations means a California water package that in its latest manifestation spanned 92 pages will not be slipped into a much larger, much-pass omnibus federal spending package needed to keep the federal government open. If legislative efforts are revived, they will come in the new year.
Bee reporter Michael Doyle also talked about the San Joaquin River salmon restoration project, another point of contention:
The Senate bill authorizes partial funding for new water storage projects, including Sites Reservoir proposed for the Sacramento Valley and Temperance Flat proposed for the Upper San Joaquin River. It funds water recycling and desalination projects and potentially eases the delivery of more water to San Joaquin Valley farms.
The original House bill introduced by Valadao, which was the starting point for negotiations,would have repealed an ambitious San Joaquin River salmon-and-habitat restoration program and replaced it with something smaller. It directed the sale of the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River to local water districts. It added artificially spawned salmon or smelt when counting Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fish populations under the Endangered Species Act.
House Republicans dropped a number of controversial provisions, like the one scaling back the San Joaquin River restoration program, while they accepted some of the recycling and desalination funding sought by Democrats. They also, Democrats say, pursued negotiations and cut deals without fully informing all parties, and environmentalists constantly feared being surprised.
“This time of year,” Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Thursday afternoon, “I always sleep with one eye open.”