News Feature | March 6, 2014

Obama Pledges $183 Million To Fight California Drought

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


President Obama headed to California recently to announce new financial aid for the drought-plagued state. 

He "arrived in the heart of California’s parched farmland to offer tens of millions of dollars in federal assistance to the state, where the lack of rain and snow this winter has led to the severest drought in its modern history," the New York Times reported

Obama "pledged $183 million from existing federal funds for drought relief programs in California," the report said. "The announcement won cautious support in this region." 

Shared sacrifice was a major talking point for the president during his trip.

"We can't think of this simply as a zero-sum game. It can't just be a matter of there's going to be less and less water so I'm going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water," Obama said, according to the Burlington Free Press. “We can’t afford years of litigation and no real action."

Obama made waves on his trip by linking the drought to global warming. 

"Mr. Obama spoke of climate change, drawing links to the drought as well as hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean," the report said. He "announced that he would ask Congress for $1 billion in new funding for a 'climate resiliency' program to help communities invest in research, development, and new infrastructure to prepare for climate disasters."

During the trip, Republican criticized his approach to water. “He has no long-term solutions,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, in the Porterville Recorder.

McCarthy touted Republican legislation to confront the drought. "On the same day President Barack Obama came to the Central Valley to view impacts the state’s drought is having on the Valley, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy said he is optimistic that finally Congress may address water issues in California," the Porterville Recorder said. 

The legislation "would permanently reallocate water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Central Valley farms and halt efforts to restore flows along the full course of the San Joaquin," according to an analysis in the San Francisco Chronicle.

But Democrats say the GOP is taking the wrong approach. The democratic senators from California are preparing their own bill on this issue, according to the Merced Sun-Star

“Each day I monitor the California drought, and each day brings more concern,” Sen. Feinstein said in an announcement. “I intend to introduce legislation soon with Senator Boxer to offer relief for California and other drought-stricken states and to streamline federal projects and operations.” 

Image credit: "Obama’s Delicate Grasp," © 2008 jurvetson, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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