George Cahlink, E&E reporter
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republican presidential candidates looking to do well in the Golden State’s June primary should offer a plan for dealing with its ongoing and historic drought.
“My best advice to everyone running is if you want to win in the Central Valley, is you ought to show your solution to water,” McCarthy told reporters yesterday.
McCarthy recommended that candidates get behind his House-passed drought legislation,H.R. 2898, and persuade the Senate to send it to the president.
McCarthy’s district, which relies heavily on agriculture, has been hit particularly hard by the water crisis. He’s been involved in negotiations over the past two Congresses to try to hammer out a bipartisan deal to better allocate the region’s scarce supplies.
McCarthy is betting the unique nature of the GOP primary, in which candidates win delegates based on winning each of the states 53 congressional districts, could force a focus on more regional issues like the drought.
“You could get up and down California and not see a lot of people. So I think you are going to find campaigns more regionally” based, said McCarthy, who has not endorsed a presidential candidate.
H.R. 2898 would loosen environmental restrictions on how much water can be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Valley Delta to parched agricultural communities in the Central Valley and municipalities farther south.
Senate Democrats have largely opposed the measure, saying it would do little to ease the crisis, would pit different regions of the state against one another and would exempt some fish from the Endangered Species Act.
McCarthy tried unsuccessfully to attach the measure to the omnibus spending bill Congress passed in December (E&E Daily, Dec. 14, 2015).
The most recent efforts to address the drought have focused on a compromise proposal, S. 2533, from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would seek to reallocate water resources, while also addressing environmental concerns.
Tags: 2016 election, Congress, drought, policy