Committee approves spending bill with California drought provisions led by Valadao, Calvert

The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill on Tuesday that includes measures led by U.S. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) to address the California drought crisis.

The committee-approved fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill outlines $37.4 billion in federal spending on national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, and energy and water infrastructure projects.

The bill also includes key provisions addressing the California drought crisis that were spearheaded by Valadao and Calvert, including delta pumping requirements and authorization to increase pumping to capture storm water runoff.

“(Tuesday’s) passage of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill is a substantial step forward in the fight for water,” Valadao, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said. “By including portions of my bill, H.R. 2898, in this appropriations bill, the House is acting once again in the best interest of Californians. This is the first time these water provisions have been included in an appropriations bill. By utilizing this new approach, I am continuing to pursue all available avenues until my constituents have the water they so desperately need.”

The appropriations bill also includes state water project offset and water rights protections outlined in H.R. 2898. In addition to protecting California State Water Project contractors if California revokes its consistency determination under environmental laws, the provision would preserve senior water rights both north and south of the delta.

“Despite above average rainfall in northern California this winter, our state continues to suffer due to misguided federal regulations that unnecessarily restrict our ability to take advantage of that water,” Calvert, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and related Agencies, said. “Along with my California Republican colleagues, I have worked to enact common-sense reforms that will increase the water we are able to capture in a responsible manner. Californians across the state will benefit from the inclusion of these provisions in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. I hope our California Senators can produce equally beneficial legislation on their side of the Capitol.”

Earlier this month, when the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved their version of the bill, Valadao said that his constituents were suffering and Congress must act now.

“I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure we reach a solution soon,” Valadao said. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, and specifically, the Energy and Water Subcommittee, including provisions from my previously passed legislation in this appropriations bill offers the Senate another avenue to pursue so that both chambers may come to an agreement.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that committee approval of the California drought provisions brought solutions to the state’s water crisis “one step closer.”

“For years now, our communities have faced devastating drought conditions that have been made worse by bad regulatory policy that lets more water out to the ocean than to communities whose livelihoods depend on it,” McCarthy said. “Even as El Nino storms have provided more rain and snow this year, regulators have idly let over 75 percent of that water flush out into the ocean instead of capturing it for our communities. This means that federal bureaucrats directed about the same amount of water south during very dry times last year as the much wetter times this year.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) praised the committee’s approval of provisions to provide relief to Californians impacted by the historic drought.

“Providing solutions to California’s water crisis is a top priority for me in Congress, and I will continue to fight alongside my colleagues in the House on this issue,” Knight said. “I am grateful for the tireless work of Rep. Valadao and Rep. Calvert in advancing this important measure through the appropriations process.”

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that the inclusion of the California drought provisions in the spending bill reflects the gravity of the drought crisis.

“The House Appropriations Committee is dedicated to resolving this issue,” Rogers said. “As a farmer and lifelong resident of the Central Valley, Congressman Valadao has witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of this drought and has been a steadfast advocate on behalf of his constituents impacted by this crisis.”

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