Obama Uses Backdrop of California Drought to Pitch $1 Billion Climate-Change Fund

Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) said Obama "missed a prime opportunity" in his visit.

“As farmers, farm workers and communities in the San Joaquin Valley suffer, this administration has chosen handouts and a climate change lecture over real solutions," Valadao said. "We feed the world and all we ask for is a reliable, clean water supply. I will remind the president that my constituents are part of the environment too, and the lack of a long-term solution could spell economic and social destruction for the Central Valley.”

House Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Obama's "decision to use his visit to California as an opportunity to launch a massive spending initiative to explore the impacts of climate change will simply leave California Central Valley communities dry."

“Unfortunately, nothing the president proposed today changes the underlying issue that our communities are not receiving the water they have contracted and paid for; thus exacerbating the impacts of the current and future droughts," McCarthy said. "House Republicans on the other hand are continuing to work to find a bipartisan, bicameral solution to ensure our communities are not crippled by future droughts."

Last week, the House passed the San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act on a bipartisan vote of 229-191. It was sponsored by every Republican member from California and led by Nunes, Valadao and McCarthy, and tweaks federal water regulations that have "severely curtailed water deliveries and resulted in hundreds of billions of gallons of badly needed water being flushed into the ocean," according to the lawmakers.

"We look forward to coming together with the Senate to find areas of common ground and common sense to finally achieve a solution that allows desperately needed water to flow in our state," McCarthy said, though the upper chamber has failed to pass a string of similar legislation previously passed by the House to increase California water supplies.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Obama was "once again linking extreme weather to climate change - with no scientific support" to push his climate-change agenda.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that ‘Climate change was not a significant part’ of the recent Texas droughts. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that ‘in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ….’ Drought is a serious problem that should not be used to justify a partisan agenda or a new billion dollar climate change fund. Over the last five years, the federal government has already spent $77 billion on climate change. And what do we have to show for that money?" Smith said.

“There are better ways to help Americans who have been impacted by drought. This week, the House passed a bipartisan bill to improve a critical drought monitoring program that has helped state and local governments, farmers and ranchers monitor and predict drought conditions," the chairman continued. "Providing practical information such as data on past droughts, current weather observations and early drought warnings can help local decision-makers prepare for and mitigate drought impacts. I look forward to a day when the weather is no longer used to gain political leverage.”