House Republicans from California lashed out at Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday for blocking drought legislation language from a larger government funding spending bill.
The California Republican delegation had attempted to insert drought relief language, which they claimed was composed with bipartisan support, into a larger omnibus bill set for a vote before the end of the year in an attempt to capitalize on the coming Pacific El Niño.
But in a news conference Friday, 14 California Republicans blamed Feinstein for not supporting the delegation’s efforts to include the drought portion in the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I was hopeful that we would get a deal done,” Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) reportedly said. “Unfortunately, we could not get the senators to accept a good, reasonable compromise. All 14 members of our delegation got to yes. Our two senators could not.”
In proposing the drought language earlier this month, the Republican delegation had said the legislation represented a compromise between a GOP effort in the House led by Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford), called the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, and the $1.3 billion California Emergency Drought Relief Act introduced by Sen. Feinstein in the Senate. Valadao’s bill had focused on providing more water to California’s Central Valley farmers while Feinstein’s bill focused largely on water storage and desalination projects. The House passed Valadao’s bill in July but had not yet considered Feinstein’s bill. The White House had promised to veto the House bill.
In statements Friday, Sens. Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said Republicans had tried to include the language without the input or consent of major California stakeholders and the White House.
“The bill that Republicans tried to place in the omnibus last week—in my name and without my knowledge—hadn’t been reviewed by me, Senator Boxer, the state or the White House,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Each of those parties is key to coming up with a bill that can actually be signed into law.”
Feinstein added that she expects “by early next week we’ll have a bill that the state and federal government can sign off on.”
Republicans had said that many of the items included in the drought language, including funding for water storage and desalination projects, and the expansion of hatcheries for endangered salmon and Delta smelt, had been composed through compromise with Democrats, according to the Times.
Democrats were reportedly fearful that the language would bypass biological opinions designed to protect certain fish under the Endangered Species Act by allowing for increased water pumping to farmers in the Central Valley.