Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"Last week, Governor Brown declared a statewide emergency over the current drought. In his declaration, he noted this is “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago.” The governor’s declaration is an important recognition of what families and farmers in the Central Valley have been struggling with for years – lack of water.
"That is why, as Majority Whip, I have been working with Congressman David Valadao and Congressman Devin Nunes in the House to take action to provide relief to local families along with struggling Central Valley farms and small businesses to ensure they receive the water they contract and pay. Last Congress, I led the House in passing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, which would have provided more water to Central and Southern California and reformed environmental laws that irresponsibly put fish over people. Senate Democrats refused to even allow debate on this important bill.
"Since then, things have only gotten worse in our state. We have a record drought, record low reservoirs and water banks, and more fallowed farmland, all exacerbated by Federal and state policies that prevent water from flowing to those who need it. Since 2007, environmental regulations in the delta have resulted in Kern County and State Water Project contractors losing over 2.7 billion acre-feet of water, valued at more than $200 million. This is unacceptable. That is why I working with my Central Valley colleagues in developing solutions for California by drafting legislation that would create a joint House-Senate committee to develop long term solutions to California’s water problems, that turns on the pumps in the delta, and that stops water from being wasted into the San Joaquin River. This commonsense approach is designed to bring the U.S. Senate to the negotiating table to develop solutions, while providing our state with more water when it starts to rain.
"The solutions are simple – we need the political will in the Senate to act. It is unconscionable that Federal and state policies in wet years have wasted water out to the Pacific, which has crippled our ability to better weather the current situation. We cannot waste any more time.
It is time to put our families and farmers first and to reverse misguided regulations that put Kern’s $6.2 billion agriculture economy at risk by wasting water out to sea during wet years rather sending it to those that contract and pay for it or to refill our reservoirs. It is time for action, and I call on the Senate to join my colleagues and me in supporting this commonsense bill to provide all Californians with immediate relief, and come together to develop a long term solution as well.