When the House of Representatives voted on the Gaining Responsibility on Water (GROW) Act last month, only one California Democrat voted in favor of the bill authored by Hanford Republican David Valadao. He was Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno.
Recently, Costa invited GV Wire to talk about why he broke with his party on the vote and his views on water legislation in Washington. He says that his maverick behavior is nothing unusual in the 30 years working on water both in in the nation’s capital as well as a state legislator in Sacramento.
“It’s always a contentious issue. It always has been in California for over 100 years,” he says.
He says the GROW Act (or H.R. 23) is a continuation of a water bill passed last December (the WIIN Act). Costa said it was a three-year long bi-partisan negotiation with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).
But, Costa realizes that this newest bill will have a hard time in the senate. It does not have the support of Feinstein nor Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) who took office this year.
“There are challenges within the existing legislation. But, I thought it was important to move it forward,” Costa said. But, without making changing, namely environmental protections that would appease Feinstein, Costa doesn’t like its chances.
“Its chances in the senate are slim and none,” Costa said.
As to why water has divided California Democrats? “They believe and tell their constituents that the legislation would bring a reliable water supply to us at their expense.” Costa emphatically believes this is not true.
“As long as they are telling their constituent that this is a water grab from us, then how do you solve the problem? Why would they support it?” Costa opined.
“As long as it’s the Valley vs. the rest of the state, we’re just not going to get much traction,” Costa said.
Watch the full interview above.