Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the need to bring water to California as well as to Flint, Michigan, with S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.

Full remarks are below, or watch online here.

“I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to thank the Chairman for his hard work on this bill and his bipartisan effort in putting it together.

“Mr. Speaker, Americans understand intuitively that governments are set up for the benefit of the people. Those who are civic-minded, who pay their taxes, live according to the law, and treat their fellow citizens with respect, deserve certain guarantees.

“Their government will keep them safe from enemies at home and abroad. Their government will defend their most basic constitutional rights. Their government will ensure that people have access to basic necessities fundamental to life. So I ask this body, Mr. Speaker, what could be more fundamental to life than water?

“America is not some third-world country. We are a wealthy nation, and we will not let any American go without water. So I’m proud we’re voting on legislation today to deliver water to people across the country by updating our water resource projects and changing outdated water policies.

“But Mr. Speaker, we cannot treat each community facing water crises in isolation. In my state of California, we are enduring the worst drought in over a century. Farmland has been fallowed. Families are forced to cut back on water consumption. Some are out of water completely. They have to travel to community centers for drinking water or to even take showers and brush their teeth. With each passing day, month, and year, our situation becomes more desperate.

“As we all know, the drought is an act of nature. It is one of those troubles that we can respond to and prepare for, but not prevent. Yet our own government—the federal government—has not only failed to prepare for this drought; they have exacerbated it. Water that could have been used in homes or on farms has been sent out to sea. Water that could have been stored by building new reservoirs was lost. Water—our most precious resource—has been wasted.

“The drought may be our biggest challenge, but its destructive efforts have been compounded by stubborn regulatory and legal restraints. In California, rather than strive to bring people water, the state government is taking it away. This is more than incompetence. Government has failed in its primary duty to make sure people have that which is necessary for life. The people of California have put in to the system, and they’re not getting what they deserve and are due.

“But today, and in large part thanks to members on both sides of the aisle in this chamber and the senior senator of our Golden State with their good-faith negotiation and partnership, water is coming. We now have a bipartisan water bill. It’s not the holistic one that this House wants to pass, but it is a bill that helps deliver water to our communities—potentially enough to supply the annual needs of almost 450,000 households in California.

“It will increase pumping. It will increase storage. It will fund more desalination, efficiency, and recycling projects. And it will do all of this in accordance with the Endangered Species Act and without costing the taxpayers one additional cent.

“Our work to bring California water is by no means complete. But this deal shows that we have a path forward to fulfill our obligation to the American people. Once we pass this bill today, I urge the Senate Democrats and Republicans and the President to join with the House and enact this bill, and help our communities in California, in Flint, and across this country get access to the water we desperately need.

“I yield back.”