Citizens all over the United States count on their lawmakers to pull together and come up with solutions in times of crisis. Whether it's a devastating hurricane, earthquake or wildfire, we look to these leaders to make the case for relief funding and to navigate the bureaucratic mazes in our state capitols and Washington, D.C.
With California in the midst of a drought, the responsibility for action rests largely on the shoulders of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as she has a record of working in bipartisan fashion and has been highly involved in water issues since her election in 1992.
That said, her initial response to Speaker of the House John Boehner's call on Wednesday for fast action on the drought was disappointing.
Although Feinstein, a Democrat, said in a news release that she stood "ready to collaborate with anyone in good faith to solve California's water problems," the tone of that release was largely defensive, merely reiterated her past water efforts and shot down the Republican proposals to deliver water to San Joaquin Valley farms.
In addition, Feinstein chided Republicans for not supporting some of her recent water and energy legislative efforts.
We're wondering what part of the word "emergency" the senator doesn't understand.
Valley residents don't care about past political battles, or who did or didn't vote for a bill.
The drought is here, and people are wondering whether the water shortage will cost them their jobs. In a region like ours — where the economy is driven by agriculture — the fallowing of fields will be costly and the consequences will ripple through the many sectors related to farming.
If the ideas authored by Reps. Devin Nunes, David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy won't work, as Feinstein says, then she needs to explain how she intends to deal with the drought. We've yet to hear what her solutions might look like.
In her statement, Feinstein said: "I am in the process of preparing legislation to provide the maximum level of relief to drought-stricken California that I intend to introduce soon."
We urge Feinstein to stay in close contact with the Valley's farm leaders and let them know what the legislation would entail, when it will be introduced and how much water growers might expect.
We also urge her to treat the drought as an emergency. This means that she and her staff should spend nearly all of their time working on water procurement and drought relief.
All droughts are tough on the Valley economy. But because the Valley has been one of the last regions in America to recover from the Great Recession, this drought could be especially devastating. Feinstein needs to be mindful of this as she makes the case for help to the Obama administration and her colleagues in the Senate.
Every person who runs for political office says that they are problem solvers and capable of overcoming difficult challenges.
We expect Sen. Feinstein to show us that she can fulfill such claims.
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