House Passes GOP-Led Bill for California Drought Relief

The House of Representatives passed Republican-led legislation in July aimed at bringing more water to the most drought-plagued areas of California. Citing environmental concerns and other problems, the White House has threatened to veto the bill.

Passed in a 245-176 vote, the bill will mandate that more water be taken out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta before it reaches the ocean, according to the Associated Press. The bill also includes measures that are aimed at speeding up studies for new and expanded dams.

Similar legislation failed during the last two Congressional sessions. Critics of the bill ? namely Democrats ? say that diverting the water to farms will only spread the problem around. They say that other communities will run out of water as a result, and that the action will harm the salmon fishing industry. Contrary, supporters of the bill say that the drought poses a threat to the country?s food supply, and in fact, the legislation will make it harder for federal officials to reduce water volumes in the future by asking them to prove that fish species will go extinct otherwise.

Soon after the bill passed in the House, the Obama administration threatened to veto the bill if it makes it through the Senate.

?Like similar legislation in the last Congress, [this legislation] was developed with little input from the public, the administration, or key stakeholders affected by the drought,??the White House said in a statement. ?The urgency and seriousness of the California drought requires a balanced and flexible approach that promotes water reliability and ecosystem restoration.?

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