This was on a motion to move to an immediate vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the bill expanding the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program. The substance of this measure was not controversial. However, other water issues in California had become controversial matters. There was an ongoing drought in the state, and some federal actions and a related court decision had limited the flow of water in a few of the state’s major rivers to protect the habitat of certain fish. The combination of these events had caused problems for the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Republicans decided to oppose any California water-related bill, including this one, until a vote was allowed on the San Joaquin Valley issue; the rule setting the terms for debating H.R. 2442 did not provide for an amendment related to the San Joaquin Valley.
Rep. Matsui, (D-CA), who represents a non-agricultural area in the San Joaquin Valley, was leading the support for the rule and for the motion to move to a vote on it. She acknowledged that: “(W)e all know that there are some serious concerns about the water crisis in California . . . From local and state levels all the way here to Washington, there are a number of different ideas about how to address our water issues in California. Some of them I prefer more than others, and some of them are preferred more than others by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. But one thing is for sure: limiting our state's water supply by holding up recycling projects like those in this bill will not solve anything. In fact, it will only prolong our collective efforts to seek solutions to California's water problems.”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) was leading the opposition to the rule for H.R. 2442 and to the motion to move to an immediate vote on it. He argued: “(O)n numerous occasions . . . Rep. Nunes (R-CA), has submitted amendments (regarding the San Joaquin Valley issue) to the Rules Committee so that those amendments could be debated and voted on by the full House. His amendments would restrict the implementation of the . . . opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the. . . National Marine Fisheries Service. However, the (Democratic) majority on the Rules Committee routinely blocked consideration of the amendments . . . .” The reason Mr. Nunes has so steadfastly sought to have the House debate the restriction on those two opinions is that they have diverted water from the San Joaquin Valley, practically turning that area into a dust bowl.”
Diaz-Balart added: “(A)ccording to a recent University of California Davis study, the water reductions have led to revenue losses of over $2 billion, and this year will lead to 80,000 jobs lost. The area now has an unemployment rate of about 20 percent . . . It is time that the House be given the opportunity to debate the San Joaquin Valley water issue.
Rep. Nunes said “I would love for San Francisco to have water. But in the grand scheme of things, this (water recycling program) is a 2-billion gallon project. We are losing 200 billion gallons out to the ocean because we simply won't let the pumps run at historical levels. It is a California water issue here, to provide water for San Francisco; yet we can't even debate or have an amendment to provide water to the bulk of California. Nunes went on to claim that there was “coordination between the Democrats in the House and radical environmentalists” who were promoting the limitation of water to the San Joaquin Valley.
The motion carried by a vote of 237-178. All two hundred and thirty-seven “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Seven other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy-one Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, House moved to an immediate vote on the rule setting the terms for debating the bill expanding the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program, which did not provide for any amendment regarding the San Joaquin Valley issue.