Washington D.C. – House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House Floor in strong support of H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act. This legislation is a solution to the man-made water crisis in California that has Californians suffering during the worst drought to hit our state in over a century
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank Congressman Valadao, Congressman Nunes, and all the delegation for their work on the water issue.
“The news from California is not bright. Current news says that our drought is the worst in a century. Governor Brown has declared a state of emergency because of the drought. Our water storage is near empty. Farmland is going fallow. Drinking water is threatened – the state actually says in a report that 17 communities can go dry in four months. And absent an act from God, our options are limited to ease this pain.
“It didn’t have to be this way.
“But why are we here today and why are we debating this bill?
“Well, without action, farms are going to go fallow.
“So what does that mean for the rest of the nation? A lot of people don’t look to see what happens throughout California and the Central Valley. Most of the produce is produced there for the nation and the world. If you just look at a few examples: 94% of all tomatoes, 93% of all broccoli, 89% of all carrots, and 78% of all lettuce supplied to the country is produced in California. So that means prices will go up. But it also means you’re going to buy that produce somewhere else. You’re going to buy it oversees. Maybe China, maybe Mexico? What about the food safety? But more importantly, what about those jobs? What about those workers?
“Just a few short years ago, unemployment in some of these cities was 40%. It’s already more than ten. The worst part of all this – it didn’t have to be this way. We could plan for it.
“You know, I’ve heard colleagues talk about this Mr. Chairman. Back in 1994, we actually had a bipartisan agreement – The Bay Delta Accord. It was more than just Republicans and Democrats agreeing. It was environmentalists, farmers, water users; everybody came to an agreement. But that bond was broken.
“The reason we debate this is that water is so precious. Most of the snowpack comes from the north and travels down to the south. We have a state water project that – which is a little ironic – Governor Brown, when his father was governor, built more than fifty years ago. There’ve always been allocations to send it down south. This year they made history. In the history of the water project the allocation is zero. Zero.
“You know, when you’re growing up and studying history there’re those Aesop’s fables. Remember Aesop? He was that slave in ancient Greece who would tell these tales and teach us about moral lesson. One of those fables talked about the ant and the grasshopper. Where the ant during summer time, because he knew winter would come, would go out and work hard and store food for the winter. Not the grasshopper, they’d be idle. Out there in summer and enjoying life and hopefully nothing bad ever happened.
“Well over the years, government regulation has made it harder. Government regulation has changed the Bay Delta Accord. It is safe to say environmentalists have sued. Environmentalists have decided that fish are more important than those who are unemployed. That maybe they come before the individual. And what does that mean?
“Since 2007, the state water project has lost 2.6 million acre feet because of these policies. Now what does that mean 2.6 million acre of feet? That means that is enough for the annual water needs for every resident of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago combined. Where’d that water go? Out to the ocean. Why would we send it out to the ocean when we could store it for the drought that we knew would happen?
“There’s nothing that illustrates a broken system more than just three years ago. You’ve all seen those photos that people have shown down here on TV of California when it had a snowpack and California today when it’s all dry. But just three years ago, you know what that snowpack was? More than 170%. Boy that would be a good year to be an ant. That’d be a good year to send it down south. That’d be a good year to store for today so those communities would not go dry or that land would not go fallow. That wasn’t the case.
“You know what the allocation was when we had 170% of snowpack? 80%. You know what’s unjust in all of this? This year when we get 0%, or then when we got 80% of allocation, the bill was always the same. You paid 100% regardless of the allocation you got. What about property rights? What about responsibility? What about a broken system?
“So what does this bill actually do? First and foremost, it puts families before fish. It goes back to an agreement that everybody agreed upon. And it moves us to a place where we can prepare.
“You know, standing defensively in the face of future droughts is not a noble gesture. It’s actually insanity.
Today this House will act again. Because we would not be in this place that we are today had the Senate taken up the bill we acted on in the last congress. Why? Because this House believes and understood and has learned the lessons of the fables before. But the Senate and the grasshopper style stood idly by.
“Our Senators – California is pretty powerful in the Senate. Mr. Chairman I will say California has Senators that are chairs of committees. There was an opportunity to act. And what is unique in this form of government – the greatest in the world – is we have two bodies. It doesn’t mean we have to agree in the beginning. It does mean you take action and show where you stand just as the House did two years ago. The Senate took no stance so how do we know where they stand?
“But we will act again. The Senate needs to act to show us where they stand so we can go to conference and stand up for the families of California.
“This has gone on too long. We did not have to be in this situation we are in today. There are families that did not have to be unemployed had we acted in the Senate based upon what we did last Congress. There are communities that would not have had to go dry had we acted before.
“So enough of rhetoric. Enough of the fights. The time is now. As the sun sets today a bill will be out of this House. But still nothing is even introduced in the Senate.
“Mr. Chairman I implore, don’t make California hurt anymore. I yield back.”