The legislation was put forward by San Joaquin Valley Republican Reps. David Valladao and Devin Nunes and other members of California's GOP delegation. The bill aims to secure more water for agriculture by suspending provisions of various federal and state water and endangered species laws and allowing more pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Many of the provisions existed in earlier versions of the legislation, sponsored by Nunes, that predated the drought.
Most Northern California Democrats and their environmental allies have fought the bill. Seven members of the delegation issued a statement Thursday applauding Feinstein "for stepping away from this deeply flawed legislation."
The statement -- from Reps. Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson, Ami Bera, Jerry McNerney, George Miller, John Garamendi and Doris Matsui -- repeated criticism that Feinstein had conducted clandestine talks that excluded input from the public, environmental and fishing-industry advocates and members of her own party:
As Members of Congress who represent districts that would be directly affected by this legislation, we have been raising serious objections to both the secretive process and the harmful content of this legislation. We will continue to demand next year that any water legislation responding to California’s severe drought be balanced and take into consideration the array of stakeholders in California.
John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, expressed similar sentiments:
"Any federal legislation that seeks to shift the balance of water distribution has to consider the interests of salmon and fishing communities since they've been hurt the worst by past water allocation decisions. This legislative effort didn't do that. The next time legislators consider California water issues, the interests and views of salmon fishermen need to be included.