- Associated Press - Friday, December 11, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several other California Republicans accused California Sen. Dianne Feinstein Friday of blocking progress on legislation to bring more water to California’s farm belt amid a severe and lengthy drought. Republicans have been hoping to add the bill to the omnibus spending legislation that Congress is aiming to pass before the holidays.

At a news conference, the Republicans said Feinstein had walked away from a deal in which GOP lawmakers had already conceded to Democratic demands, including protection of endangered species.

McCarthy said Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., had “moved the goal post” several times through months of talks. The Republicans said they were hoping to finish the deal soon as forecasters have said a strong El Nino weather system could drench California in the coming months.

“For California, now is the time to act,” McCarthy said.

In a statement, Feinstein said the Republicans had tried to put legislation in the omnibus last week that had not been reviewed by the senators or the White House. She said the language likely would have violated environmental law.

“I expect that by early next week we’ll have a bill that the state and federal government can sign off on,” Feinstein said.

The fishing industry fears that drought-relief efforts will further harm salmon runs, which already have been depleted by reduced water flows. “These House members don’t seem to understand that killing off our salmon runs and putting fishing families out of work won’t make it rain,” said Golden Gate Salmon Association Executive Director John McManus.

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