06.14.16

Senator David Perdue: Congressional Involvement In State Water Rights Issue Sets Dangerous Precedent

“It is not this body’s place to try and tip the scales.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today spoke on the Senate floor to explain his opposition to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 because of the damaging impact it would have on ongoing water negations between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

“It is not this body’s place to try and tip the scales in any way on this matter,” said Senator Perdue. “Furthermore, we have already had this fight. This same language was inserted last year during debate over the Omnibus spending bill…When the leaders in this body and the leader in the House saw what was really happening in this language, they both independently removed it. Nothing has changed to merit having this debate again.”

Click here to view the speech or click on the image below. 

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Transcript:

“I rise today to highlight my opposition to the cloture motion on the appropriations bill for the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, and the Science Agencies and to discuss an issue of critical importance to my home state of Georgia. And, what I think is a direct abuse of what the Founders intended for Senate debate.

For over 20 years, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the Army Corps of Engineers have been engaged in various lawsuits over water rights between those three states.

Georgia has two reservoirs in question – Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona – operated by the Corps that provide drinking water for Metro-Atlanta and provide water downstream for the Chattahoochee, Flint, Coosa, and Tallapoosa rivers.

These river basins also provide water to South Georgia and parts of Alabama and Florida.

Currently, litigation is pending in the United States Supreme Court, the federal DC District Court, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Negotiations are also ongoing between the state governments on this very topic and I believe they are closer to a solution, right now, than we’ve ever been.

Clearly, this is an issue that should be left to the states to settle through negotiation and, if needed, litigation.

But now another attempt is being made by some in the Senate to surreptitiously influence the courts through language included in the report that accompanies this CJS bill.

We will vote on that bill sometime this afternoon and I strongly oppose this bill.

This is the business of the states, and should not be resolved or influenced in this manner.

Let me be clear, it is not this body’s place to try and tip the scales in any way on this matter.  

Furthermore, we have already had this fight. This same language was inserted last year during debate over the Omnibus spending bill. It was removed then after further examination and explanation was given to leaders in both Chambers over its purpose.

Let me reiterate that.

When the leaders in this body and the leader in the House saw what was really happening in this language, they both independently removed the language. It was removed then, and nothing has changed to merit having this debate again.

Multiple lawsuits and negotiations between the states are ongoing. There’s nothing unusual about that.

Any attempt to create a role for Congress during the appropriations process on this issue would set a dangerous precedent and should alarm every Senator who cares about the rights and integrity of the states.  

Injecting Congress into this world gives an unjust advantage to other states involved, stripping away any incentive for them to negotiate in good faith with our state of Georgia.

Furthermore, this Congressional involvement would establish a dangerous precedent for any state involved in water resource negotiations. The negotiations on water rights in the west make this pale in comparison.

That is not a role our Founders intended for Congress to play, and inserting the federal government into another issue where it doesn’t belong would be emblematic of why folks back home are so fed up with the dysfunction in Washington.

For these reasons and others I will discuss throughout this week I will vote no on advancing to the CJS Appropriations bill.”