House Democrats Call Out GOP on Drought’s Economic Impact after Amendments are Excluded from Valadao Bill

July 15, 2015

Washington – A group of House Democrats are calling out House Republicans for not taking into account the impact that the Valadao drought legislation will have on the economies of the Delta farming and Northern California and Oregon fishing communities, or the larger impact on communities across California. Reps. Jared Huffman (CA-02), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), and Peter DeFazio (OR-04), offered a pair of amendments that would require the legislation to take economic impact into consideration. Those amendments were not adopted.

“Yesterday my Democratic colleagues and I suggested more than 20 amendments to improve Rep. Valadao’s water bill and ensure that it does not hurt my Northern California constituents or other stakeholders throughout the state. We wanted to ensure the bill does not negatively impact tribal water rights, preempt California water law, or violate fish and wildlife code,” Huffman said. “Yet, all but four Democratic amendments were quickly rejected by the Republican Majority without even a vote. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues are continuing to treat the drought as a political opportunity instead of working across the aisle to create a bill that helps all of California.”

Reps. Jared Huffman and Peter DeFazio’s amendment would have prevented any provision of H.R. 2898 from being implemented if the Pacific Fishery Management Council certifies that it could reduce employment or recreational opportunities for commercial or sport fishermen.

“With my own home state of Oregon suffering from severe drought, I appreciate the need to relieve the debilitating situation in California. However, the solution that Republicans have concocted will devastate the fisheries and recreation industries along the entire Pacific Northwest coast, and will provide only a short-term solution for California’s drought. HR 2898 will create another costly ecological disaster—this time with America’s fisheries—that American taxpayers will have to foot the bill for, just as they did in 2007, when the federal government spent millions in response to the catastrophic salmon disaster,” said Rep. DeFazio.

“Rather than diverting funding from Oregon fisheries and multiplying the devastation, we should invest in preventative measures that could lessen the drought’s economic effects.  Instead of listening to all stakeholders and allowing Oregon’s fishing industry a seat at the table, which my amendment would have permitted, Republicans are forcing through a short-sighted measure that will have a destructive effect on businesses and families across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest,” added DeFazio.

“Once again, with the rejection of these amendments, the Republicans are refusing to come to the table with any real, long-term solutions to respond to California’s drought crisis. The Republican proposal does not create new water, and it promotes destructive strategies with no concern for how this plan will reduce agricultural jobs, and hurt local economies and industries across the Delta region, said Rep. Jerry McNerney. “At the same time, it is unacceptable that the Republicans would also block efforts to ensure this legislation does not have harmful effects on water quality, saltwater contamination, and available water resources for families and agricultural producers alike. California is struggling with severe conditions, and our communities should not continue to suffer while Republicans try to have it both ways. I am committed to working with all of my colleagues who want to pursue bold, forward-thinking solutions to help California better manage its water supply.”

Rep. McNerney’s amendment would have blocked the implementation of any provision in H.R. 2898 that results in reductions in agricultural employment and recreational opportunities for the five Delta counties: Contra Costa County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Solano County, and Yolo County, California.H.R. 2898 is scheduled for debate and a vote on the House Floor tomorrow.