House Speaker John Boehner stopped by California on Wednesday, claiming he wanted to open the spigot for drought-stricken farmers, while doing a little rainmaking for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He made his comments while standing on a lush, irrigated golf course in Palm Springs.
We welcome the attention of the speaker, but the pretext under which he appeared is suspect. Along with GOP Reps. Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, Boehner said he wants to delay implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Project until 2015, which would leave salmon high and dry. Anything Boehner can do to assist with Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought response would be welcome. Gutting the intent of the Endangered Species Act isn’t.
The speaker’s discovery of California’s water problems is important, though late in coming.
For example, Boehner couldn’t get his crew to pass a farm bill. Without a farm bill, the government cannot offer federal disaster relief for our drought – which would normally qualify. Only a few California crops qualify, but almonds growers could get some help.
Wading into what’s left of California’s water may be good politics, but we wish Boehner had a more comprehensive approach. Come on in, Mr. Speaker. The water’s fine, if low. But leave politics at the water’s edge.