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House GOP Offers New California Drought Relief Bill

KPCC | Kitty Felde

After the collapse of secret negotiations to send more water to Central Valley farmers, California’s Republican lawmakers have come up with a completely new water bill. It’s an early sign of the GOP’s rising power after last month’s election.

The newest drought bill will bring more water to Central Valley farmers over the next 18 months. It could also make it easier for the Metropolitan Water District – the agency that provides water to 18 million Southern Californians – to purchase extra water in drought years. Environmentalists and Democrats are unhappy, saying the bill makes Central Valley farmers the winners and the endangered species the losers.

Republican co-sponsor Doug LaMalfa of Redding says the legislation includes areas of agreement reached with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.

LaMalfa: “Some of our other Senators are standing in the way of that.”
Felde: “In other words, Senator Boxer.”
LaMalfa: “Is that the other one? Yeah.” 

Pressure from the GOP-led House presents a tough choice for Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer: accept this short-term bill now or face an even less attractive measure in the new year when Republicans control both the House and the Senate.