Friday, January 23, 2015

A Brooklyn water fight?

In a meeting with reporters this week, California Senator Barbara Boxer lashed out at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had blamed the senator for killing House-Senate negotiations on a California water bill. Pronouncing herself a Brooklyn street-fighter, the senator accused Leader McCarthy of not consulting closely enough with her and some of her allies.

In previous Congresses, the House approved numerous major water bills (see here, here, and here) that the Senate refused to pass. When the Senate finally approved a weak bill last year, we thought a path had opened to negotiate a compromise bill that would at least ease the water crisis to some degree. But apparently, a water solution is not about providing relief to water-starved families or struggling farmers or devastated communities – instead, it’s all about Barbara Boxer and her demand that everyone pay her the proper respect.   

Senator Boxer also argued that any water solution was pointless that favors only one part of the state. Of course, one part of the state – the Central Valley – is suffering much worse than other parts. For example, San Francisco, a bastion of the environmental movement, enjoys a pristine water supply piped in from Hetch Hetchy reservoir that is not subject to the environmental regulations that have devastated the Valley’s water resources. Nevertheless, a solution seemingly needs to benefit everyone equally – the Central Valley and San Francisco alike – or it will not win the senator’s support.

House Republicans will continue proposing solutions to the water crisis in the new Congress, and we hope Senator Boxer, who has opposed every one of our efforts, will realize that none of us in the House really wants a Brooklyn street fight in California.