Thompson Votes Against Partisan Water Bill That Would Kill Jobs, Violate State Law, and Do Nothing to Address Longterm Water Needs

Jul 12, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) today voted against the House Majority’s California water bill, H.R. 23. The legislation will jeopardize jobs, undermine existing state law, and override long-standing environmental protections without creating any new water.

This latest attempt by the Majority to prioritize special interests in the San Joaquin Valley is being rushed to the House Floor without consideration by the House Committee on Natural Resources. H.R. 23 is opposed by Governor Jerry Brown, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and the Delta Counties Coalition along with numerous conservation, refuge and fishing industry groups.

The Majority did not include an Amendment to H.R. 23 offered by Representatives Thompson, Bera (CA-7), DeSaulnier (CA-11), McNerney (CA-9), and Swalwell (CA-15) to delay implementation of the bill until it was determined that the legislation would not have a negative impact on the quantity, quality, and safety of drinking water in the California Delta region.

The bill passed out of the House along a nearly party line vote of 230-190.

Thompson spoke in opposition to H.R. 23 today on the House floor. Text of his remarks as prepared and video are below. 

Thompson speaks on the House floor.
Visit or click the above link to see Rep. Thompson's remarks.


“Mister Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill.

I rise on behalf of the fishermen, the landowners, the Delta and North of Delta farmers, the conservationists, the sportsmen, coastal communities, the Counties in my district, and the water users across the state that will be harmed by this bill.

This is a shameful effort to take care of the San Joaquin Valley’s massive agribusinesses at the expense of everyone else.

More times than I can count, I’ve stood on this floor with my colleagues from California to explain that our state’s water system is complicated.

There are hundreds of stakeholders, and decades of rules, laws, and court cases from every level of government and industry that regulate the delivery of water to users across the state.

And once again, this body is proposing to do an end run that delicate balance to benefit one interest. That’s wrong.

Once again, we’re gutting federal protections for fish and wildlife that support the state’s $3.6 billion hunting and angling industry, and $1.4 billion salmon industry.

Once again, we’re pre-empting California laws and regulations, telling states across America that we’re okay with the federal government undermining state and local experts from coast to coast.

But this time, we’ve gone further - this bill isn’t just about water anymore.

It’s about giving contractors a pass on their obligations to be good stewards of the resources they’re using in the Central Valley of California.

It’s about reneging on this body’s commitment to the restoration of wildlife and habitat that have suffered the consequences of water management plans that already puts them last.

It’s about cutting stakeholders out of the picture and determining winners and losers in statute.

Taking a blunt axe to our state’s water system over the objection of the Governor, both of our Senators, and many of our colleagues in the House is wrong for California. It won’t alleviate water shortages. It will kill jobs. And it will ruin drinking water for millions.

We need real solutions that are based on sound science and that work for everyone. This bill is not the solution. It’s bad for California’s economy, bad for state sovereignty, and bad for our environment.”

Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties.  He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.