House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"The historic drought has been one of the more devastating and frustrating challenges our community Like many natural disasters, the American people have a history of rallying around solutions to help pull a region out of crisis. To achieve the solutions that will prevent this man-made crisis from griping our state in the future, public opinion will play a role, which makes getting the facts straight surrounding the drought so important.
"A popular meme within the mainstream media, Internet blogs, and cable television over the last week was how agriculture in California is such a water hog—using 80 percent of California’s water. However, this leaves out water usage that serves the benefit of fish over people. As the Public Policy Institute of California reports, this is “water in rivers protected as 'wild and scenic' under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use." When added to the usage referred above, agriculture’s take drops to 40 percent and environmental usage stands at 30 percent. And as we know, water for agriculture is water for America’s salad bowl.
"But as we have hit the fourth year of the drought, our farmers, their workers, and consumers of American-made produce and beef have been hit the hardest while the fish, that 30 percent of the water is used to protect, swim carefree throughout the delta. And now, painful reverberations to families has reached urban and suburban communities. In a recent Bakersfield Observed post, Richard Beene highlighted the buried lead in a Los Angeles Times article that “low income households are carrying the heaviest load when it comes to conserving water.”
"So the very communities that many Democrats claim to be top advocates for will soon face water shortages and or higher bills for their vociferous defense of fish.
"This imbalance has to stop and that is what the House plans to do with legislation. Unfortunately, the legislative storyline to this point has been Democrats standing in the way of progress. But the state of this crisis transcends traditional battle lines.
"Far from a common theme in the White House briefing room, the California drought has the White House defending its harmful position. At a press briefing last week, CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked press secretary Josh Earnest if, as a result of the crisis, the White House is reconsidering their veto-threat of House legislation. Unsurprisingly, the Earnest deflected.
"But the brief exchange was instructive as the House continues to work towards legislative solutions. Continuing to stand behind fish as human suffer is an untenable position. And as the truth reins over “facts” that tell half the story, the American people will stand firmly behind the fight our community is in.
"Congress’s role is critical and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to continue to move our state and country forward with commonsense California water policy.