The legislation would allow more water to be pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California during storms. The bill’s author, Republican David Valadao, says it’s a watered down version of a bill that passed the House earlier this year, but failed to be reconciled with a Senate measure backed by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Valadao says the bill is a short term fix that would help communities struggling in the drought.
“The bill is simple in that it does keep in place all the protections of the Endangered Species Act, the biological opinions, and others that have been put in place to protect the environment," says Valadao. "But this does give a little bit more flexibility to those agencies to allow some pumping to protect these poor communities.”
But Democrat George Miller says the bill would override environmental protections to help Central Valley farms.
“Our whole state is suffering from the drought, but this is an 11th hour attempt to say we don’t like the way you’re coming together to do this, we’re going to take ours first,” says Miller.
President Obama has promised to veto the legislation.