Water & Drought

April 2, 2014

Feinstein's revised California water bill designed to woo GOP

In a move designed to lure Republican support, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced a revised California water bill that could move lawmakers closer to meaningful negotiation.

The new bill drops spending proposals that had been included in the original California water bill introduced by Feinstein and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer on Feb. 11. The $300 million in spending, in turn, had stuck in the craw of some Senate Republicans.

"It was a problem on the Republican side," Feinstein acknowledged at a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

By cutting the bill's costs, and tweaking other elements, Feinstein hopes the bill reintroduced this week can secure the 60 Senate votes needed to avoid going through the standard committee review.

Speedier Senate consideration under what's called Rule 14, in turn, is designed to pass something that can form the basis of a compromise with a far different California water bill passed in early February by the Republican-controlled House.

The redrawn Senate bill mandates that federal agencies operate California water projects with "maximum flexibility" to boost irrigation deliveries, among other provisions. It also takes a number of technical steps, some going beyond California, but unlike the House bill it does not specifically authorize big new water projects and it leaves intact the current San Joaquin River restoration program.

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