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GOP-Sponsored Bill For More Delta Water To Farmers Passes House; No Chance In Senate

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Land is exposed by the extremely low water level of Lake Kaweah on February 5, 2014 near Visalia, California. Now in its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years and possible the worst in the past 500 years. Grasslands that support cattle have dried up, forcing ranchers to feed them expensive supplemental hay to keep them from starving or to sell at least some of their herds, and farmers are struggling with diminishing crop water and what to plant or whether to tear out permanent crops which use water year-round such, as almond trees. About 17 rural communities could run out of drinking water within several weeks and politicians are are pushing to undo laws that protect several endangered species. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Land is exposed by the extremely low water level of Lake Kaweah on February 5, 2014 near Visalia, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KCBS) — The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a water bill on Wednesday addressing California’s ongoing drought but the measure is likely to go no further because of a White House veto threat and opposition from the state’s Democratic Senators.

The federal water bill, passed mostly along party line 229-191, loosens environmental restrictions to pump more water from the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley.

“It does not create one gallon of water. It simply steals what little water there is available from some and gives it to another,” Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) said on the House floor.

Gov. Jerry Brown calls the measure an “unwelcome intrusion” but Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) said California has to stop putting fish over farmers by flushing the Delta water out to sea to help the smelt and salmon.

“When the forefathers built this state, including the governor’s own father, they weren’t idiots at the time. Suddenly we’ve all become idiots” he said. “Remember what this water is being dumped for. It’s being dumped for what I call phantom salmon because there are no fish and the fish aren’t coming back; they’ve been gone 100 years.”

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa) said the bill is an effort to politicize the drought, calling it  “political poppycock.”  

“We’d be better off if every member of Congress joined in a rain dance on the floor that would have more benefit to California than this bill,” he said.

The House bill—called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act—was sponsored by all 15 California GOP congressmen and has no chance to Senate. California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and have said they will introduce their own measure which will maintain environmental restrictions while maximizing water delivery.

President Obama has stated that he would not sign the House version of the bill.

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