Senate Introduces Drought Relief Bill Days Before Presidential Visit

Senate Introduces Drought Relief Bill Days Before Presidential Visit

Lawmakers introduce yet another bill to bring water to thirsty Californians, but will an agreement ever be reached?

It's the second proposed drought relief bill in the last week, and the ongoing fight to aid an historic drought is just ahead of President Obama's historic visit to Fresno this Friday.

The latest bill differs from last week's in that it doesn't roll back any state or federal rules, but what critics say it doesn't have, is a clear cut solution on how to get water to farmers.  That's been a big fighting point between democrats and republicans.  Now, the hope is an agreement can be reached after the president comes to town and sees the problem first hand.

The newest drought relief bill, introduced by democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, comes just days before President Obama's scheduled visit to Fresno and one week after Obama said he would not sign a bill introduced by house republicans.  The back and forth political battle is not surprising to Fresno political analyst Don Larson.

Larson says, "I would hope that the two parties would come together and decide that what's good for America is more important than what's good for the democrats or the republicans.  I don't see that happening."

Largely because the bills aren't compatible.  The house is proposing to override federal rules and divert water from the fish in the Delta to farmers in the Valley. The senate is proposing $300 million in emergency drought aid, and a requirement for federal agencies to maximize water supplies using Delta pumping.  Despite a big partisan divide, Larson says he hopes the president will focus on the big picture.

"It's high time he visit the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno is going to be a focal point and the San Joaquin Valley is going to have at least some attention paid to what's an enormous problem," says Larson.

On a more local level, a statewide push to  conserve is now underway.  Tuesday, Caltrans activated an important message on highway signs across the state, reading 'Serious drought. Save water.'

Fresno Caltrans public information officer Tami Conrado says, "To just remind motorists and all of Californians and urge them to do their part in saving water."

Senator Feinstein and senator boxer both plan to accompany President Obama during his stop here Fresno this Friday.

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