Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California
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21 House Democrats Send Letter to President Obama on GOP Drought Tactics

Dec 9, 2015
Press Release

Washington—Today, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) led 20 House Democrats from California, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington in sending a letter to President Barack Obama, expressing their disapproval with Republican congressional efforts to hijack the drought crisis affecting western states. The letter also calls on the President to work to keep any harmful drought legislation out of a must-pass government funding bill.

Full text of the letter:

December 9, 2015

President Barack Obama

White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our disapproval with Republican congressional efforts to hijack the drought crisis affecting western states. Republican leadership is currently working to include provisions in the omnibus spending legislation that are similar to those we have continuously opposed.  It is unacceptable that our Republican colleagues are attempting to bypass regular order with a damaging rider that fails to provide meaningful drought relief.

Secret maneuvering only confirms that our House counterparts have not negotiated in good faith and that any drought relief language included in must-pass spending legislation will not reflect the input of all stakeholders. Previous drought bills, including the House-passed H.R. 2898, contained numerous environmentally damaging provisions similar to those in this rider. These provisions would harm our communities’ water quality and supply, disadvantage our farmers and fishermen, and violate tribal trust responsibilities. 

Your administration has clearly voiced its opposition to H.R. 2898. Interior Deputy Secretary Mike Connor stated in his hearing testimony that, “H.R. 2898 dictates operational decisions, prescribes infeasible outcomes, and creates new conflicts among existing laws that will hinder, rather than help, an effective drought response . . . We believe that H.R. 2898 will slow decision-making, generate significant new litigation, and limit the real-time operational flexibility that has proven critical to maximizing water delivery during the current drought.”[1]

You also issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the bill: “The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2898 . . . because it fails to address critical elements of California’s complex water challenges and will, if enacted, impede an effective and timely response to the continuing drought while providing no additional water to hard hit communities.”

Federal, state, and local officials have worked in real-time to maximize limited water supplies, prioritize public health and safety, meet state water quality requirements, and ensure a balanced approach. We do not believe that the proposed rider offers relief to our states and communities or builds upon the state and federal agencies ongoing work to address the drought. Instead, this Republican rider would micromanage the operations of California’s water supply system to benefit some stakeholders over others, undermine the Endangered Species Act by overriding existing biological opinions, and weaken the Clean Water Act.

The State of California, nearly the entire California House Democratic Delegation and delegations from Oregon, Arizona, and Washington have said repeatedly that such an approach is unacceptable. Given the severity of the drought and its impact on our economy, environment, and the well-being of our constituents, it is reprehensible to tie the health of the Delta, and the many west-wide economies and species it supports, to must-pass spending legislation.

We are also disappointed that our House counterparts did not provide the same level of support during negotiations for comprehensive drought solutions, such as water recycling, innovative financing, and infrastructure repair efforts, which are included in S. 1894. We will continue our efforts, however, to advocate for solutions that provide sustainable relief and break us out of a cycle of reliance on an oversubscribed water supply. In order to bring drought relief to our great states, we must bring all affected stakeholders together to respond to the current drought and build regional resiliency to face future droughts. It is vital to put the days of choosing one economic sector or one geographic region over another behind us.

We appreciate your attention to these issues and hope that your administration will work to keep any harmful drought legislation out of a must-pass government funding bill. In doing so, you will ensure that any legislation moving forward is properly vetted and prevents further harm to the drought-stricken communities and environment in California and the entire western United States.


____________________________              _____________________________

JERRY MCNERNEY                                     RAUL GRIJALVA

Member of Congress                                        Member of Congress                                                 

_____________________________           _____________________________

JARED HUFFMAN                                      PETER DEFAZIO

Member of Congress                                     Member of Congress                                                                                                                               

_____________________________           _____________________________ 

JOHN GARAMENDI                                  MIKE THOMPSON

Member of Congress                                    Member of Congress                                           

_____________________________          _____________________________ 

DORIS MATSUI                                       MARK DESAULNIER

Member of Congress                                  Member of Congress  

_____________________________         _____________________________             

MIKE HONDA                                           ANNA ESHOO

Member of Congress                                  Member of Congress  

_____________________________          _____________________________             

JACKIE SPEIER                                           ZOE LOFGREN                                   

Member of Congress                                    Member of Congress  

_____________________________           _____________________________                

EARL BLUMENAUER                                ERIC SWALWELL                                           

Member of Congress                                   Member of Congress

_____________________________          _____________________________             

MARK TAKANO                                        TED LIEU                                   

Member of Congress                                  Member of Congress                                               

_____________________________          _____________________________             

SUSAN DAVIS                                         LOIS CAPPS

Member of Congress                                 Member of Congress  

_____________________________          _____________________________             

DEREK KILMER                                        SUZANNE BONAMICI

Member of Congress                                    Member of Congress                                


BARBARA LEE                                                         

Member of Congress                                                 


Brian Deese, Senior Advisor to the President, White House

Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Shaun Donovan, Director, Office of Management and Budget

Mike Connor, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

John Bezdek, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

Will Stelle, Regional Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Trent Bauserman, Associate Director for Legislative Affairs, White House Council on Environmental Quality        

Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.



[1] United States. Cong. Senate. Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Full Committee Legislative Hearing on Western and Alaska Water Legislation, Oct. 8, 2005. 114th Cong 1st sess. 1 (2015).