This was a 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. She acknowledged that: “(W)e all know that there are some serious concerns about the water crisis in California . . . 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.
Rep. Napolitano (D-CA), who represents a primarily non-agricultural area in California, also supported the rule. She first agreed that “there is a great need of assistance to the Central Valley” and that part of that need was for additional facilities to store water for when it was needed.” However, she then added “but right now (other parts of California) need immediate results and water recycling is one of the tools that (is needed). H.R. 2442 provides new water to the Bay Area in California. The recycling projects authorized will provide 2.6 billion gallons of water annually, enough to meet the needs of 24,000 families. Why do we stand against water for other areas? All of us need additional water in California.”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) was leading the opposition to the rule for H.R. 2442. He referred to the fact that the rule being considered was “closed”, meaning that it would not permit any amendments to be offered to H.R. 2442. Diaz-Balart then noted that “on 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.”
Diaz-Balart argued that the there “never should have been a closed rule, and we need to find out why is it that the majority keeps closing down these rules. I think we may be getting close to the answer if we look back at (the fact that Members of the Democratic leadership) . . . took credit for the lawsuits that turned the pumps off.” Diaz-Balart added that this fact “made me believe maybe there is some coordination going on between the left-wing radicals and the fringe environmental movement, and how is that being coordinated from this body. These are questions that we need to know about.”
The rule was approved by a vote of 221-193. All two hundred and twenty-one “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Twenty-three other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, House was able to begin formal debate of the bill expanding the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program, and did not allow any amendment regarding the San Joaquin Valley issue.