House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi railed against a bipartisan provision tacked onto the Water Resources Development Act providing California drought relief funding Thursday, alleging Republicans “hijacked” the must-pass legislation.
While the rider was negotiated between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, critics, including outgoing California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, slammed the addition, calling it a “poison pill” that would undermine the Endangered Species Act. Pelosi said she appreciates the work Feinstein put into the bill, but believes Republicans attached Flint funding to the bill as “a trick” to force this provision through.
“I have enormous respect for Sen. Feinstein and the time that she has put in on all of this, I do respect the fact that this is Sen. Boxer’s committee, it’s her bill, it’s her position it’s her leaving of Congress and, that they would do that for substantive reasons I oppose that provision,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “But also its just another indication of an arrogance, I’m not speaking of Sen. Feinstein now, but of the Republicans, of ‘take it or leave it.'”
Pelosi questioned the timing of its introduction and how the provision was constructed, arguing the lawmakers knew it would be controversial and should have provided more time for its review.
“This is something that we had been negotiating, the WRDA bill, for a while, and like two hours before it was supposed to be posted, they came up with this thick bill saying this is now going to be in it — we didn’t even see the bill until hours later,” she said. “So from that standpoint it was suspicious.”
Proponents of the provision argue it’s necessary to provide funds for the immediate delivery of water to the Central Valley and southern California in addition to providing resources for infrastructure projects designed to alleviate water storage issues.
“In California, rather than strive to bring people water, the state government is taking it away. This is more than incompetence,” McCarthy said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “Government has failed in its primary duty to make sure people have that which is necessary for life. The people of California have put in to the system, and they’re not getting what they deserve and are due.”
McCarthy dismissed Pelosi’s criticisms, noting the language was negotiated across the aisle.
“So, she’s upset because a member from California worked with a senator from California and made a bipartisan piece of legislation — interesting,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
WRDA passed the House in a 360-61 vote.
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