This vote was on an amendment that would have required water resources in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to be managed in a way that complies with state and federal law and relies on the best available science.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would alter the management of one of California’s largest waterways to favor agribusiness over environmental and conservation interests. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta supports sensitive bird and fish populations, but scarce water resources have jeopardized the health of the ecosystem. The bill would divert more water from the Delta south to water-thirsty farms and cities in the fertile San Joaquin Valley. It would also override state and federal environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act.
Democrats argued that Republicans were trying to turn back the clock nearly 20 years in the management of natural resources. If Congress removed environmental protections for the Delta, it should at least ensure that the water is managed using the best available science, they argued.
“Instead of using cutting-edge science, the Republican bill would take us back to 1994. So let me ask you: Are you willing to give up your 2012 iPhone for a 1994 brick of a cellular phone? How about giving up your Prius for a Yugo? Or using a phonebook instead of Facebook?” Rep. Markey said. “The answer to those questions is easy. And so is this one: Would you trade the science of California water in 2012 for 1994 science?”
Republicans argued that Democrats were actually defending “ideology masquerading as science.” They argued that water restrictions implemented by environmentalists had resulted in drought-like conditions and job losses in California’s agricultural industry.
“It is time that the ideological zealotry that threw thousands of families into unemployment be replaced with practical and fact-based solutions that keep our promises. It's time that we placed a higher value on human lives than on the bureaucratic dictates of the environmental left,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.
Rep. Markey’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 180-244. Voting “yea” were 179 Democrats and 1 Republican. Voting “nay” were 236 Republicans and 8 Democrats. As a result, the House defeated the effort to ensure management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is conducted using the best available science.