Retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California is determined to be remembered as a defiant and dogmatic leftist, as she plans Friday to filibuster a bipartisan water bill that gives her state’s farmers more access to water after six years of drought.
(Update: Boxer began her filibuster, as promised, Friday afternoon:
— Sarah D. Wire (@sarahdwire) December 9, 2016
Her stand delayed the passage of an overall government funding bill.)
Boxer is furious about a rider to the bill that allows water pumping levels to exceed current environmental standards, which were designed to protect the endangered Delta smelt baitfish, as well as salmon needing river water to swim upstream.
The bill, the FY 2017 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), is the result of years of negotiations between the two parties and the two houses of Congress, and is one of the most important recent achievements of Boxer’s colleague and fellow liberal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). But Feinstein, while a hard-core leftist on issues like gun control, has always been slightly more moderate, and indeed more realistic, than her colleague, particularly on issues like intelligence and terrorism.
Earlier this week, Boxer vowed to resist the WRDA: “There is no place for that as long as I am breathing … They are not playing a game with someone who will not play hardball. I will not allow this to come forward without a fight,” she declared. (There were echoes of Boxer’s irritable rebuke in 2009 of a general who referred to her politely as “Ma’am”: “”Do me a favor. Could say ‘Senator’ instead of ‘Ma’am.’ It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, thank you.”)
The Los Angeles Times notes that two-thirds of the California delegation in the House of Representatives supports the bill, including the water rider:
The bill passed the House 360-61… Thirty-six of California’s 53 House members supported it. The 16 California Democrats who voted against the bill mostly represent the Delta and Bay Area and were upset by such a substantial last-minute policy addition to the bill that was not considered through the normal public committee process.
If Boxer succeeds, the bill will likely die, since the House has already left for the holidays. The issue will then likely be taken up by the new Congress with President Donald Trump in office, who has pledged to direct more water to the farmers of the Central Valley — meaning Boxer’s last stand could be for naught.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.