(Editor’s Note: the following are the comments on the House floor by Congressman and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on H.R. 23, a bill to bring more water to California.)

“Now, Mr. Speaker, water is not optional. Not in my district. Not in California. Not anywhere. But over the past five years my constituents have struggled to survive without life-giving water in the face of a catastrophic drought.

“This past winter, heavy rains and snowfall have brought much needed relief. In fact, there was so much water this past winter, we ran out of room to store it.

“But we cannot always expect a year to bring monsoon-level rains and record snow. What happens if next year’s rain and snowfall is average? Or below average? Or we have another drought? The federal and state regulations that keep us from pumping and storing water will come back to haunt us.

“The water bill passed by this body and signed into law last year was a down payment on California’s future. Today’s legislation is another major investment in our state’s future.

“So, let’s look at pumping. There is no reason—absolutely no reason –we should prioritize potential benefits to fish over real benefits to families. This legislation increases Delta pumping and will bring immediate relief two-thirds of California south of the Delta.

“But a long-term solution demands more than pumping. While California’s population has doubled since the 1970s, we haven’t completed a single major storage project in that time. Now that’s worth restating. With California’s population having doubled since the 1970s we have not completed a single major storage project in that time. How can California grow and thrive in the future if we depend on inadequate infrastructure from nearly 50 years go?

“Currently, five reservoir projects have been stalled in regulatory and red tape for decades. If these reservoirs alone are built, we could store between one to 1.5 million acre-feet of additional water in our state. So we need to build more storage as soon as possible. Last year’s water bill jumpstarted the process for building new reservoirs in California and the West. It was a bipartisan bill with hundreds of votes out of the House, more than 70 in the Senate.

“Today’s legislation builds on that by requiring the federal government to finally finish the feasibility studies for the five storage projects in California. Then we reform the permitting process so other projects aren’t held up for years trying to get approval from a dozen different agencies.

“So I want to thank Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) for his hard work, his persistence on this issue. Ultimately, American citizens haven’t gotten the water they need because their government was failing them. Last year’s bill was a start to change all that. So today, we take another major step forward to bring our communities the water they contract and pay for.

“Now Mr. Speaker, you’re going to hear a lot of people on this side of the aisle talk about the need in California. Unfortunately, on the other side of the aisle it looks like you’ll just hear from one. That should show you the need and desire of why this bill is so important.”