With the House of Representatives remaining out of session, restless Republican Members of Congress left Capitol Hill and traversed to the otherside of Pennsylvania Avenue for a meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday.

During a roundtable discussion, Trump offered strong praise of Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) over his work while chairing the House Intelligence Committee to investigate abuses of the FISA process by the Department of Justice and FBI.

“This guy would come in and he would tell people what was going on and people wouldn’t believe it, because it was not believable – that they would be doing a takeover of a Presidency, illegally,” Trump said of FISA abuses by Justice Department officials amid investigations into discredited claims of Russian collusion.

“He saw it before anybody, and you deserve a medal,” Trump said, calling for Nunes to receive the Congressional equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize.

Nunes, in conversing with Trump, touched on a sore subject amid the coronavirus pandemic: perceived inaction by the lower chamber of Congress.

“Thank you for bringing us back here and showing the American people that we can be back here and do our work,” Nunes said. “The Democrats are cowering at home right now.”

Republicans on the Hill have pushed the Democratic majority to return to session and resume legislative activity. Thus far, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted.

“My folks have been going to work because they have to feed this country,” Nunes said of his Valley constituents. “If we expect the guys that are cutting meat or working at our grocery store or working at a packing plants – if we expect them to go to work, we ought to go to work as members of Congress.

Nunes pivoted the conversation to a key regional victory for the President: shifting the balance in California’s long-standing water wars.

In February, the Trump administration issued new biological opinions, or environmental guidelines, providing key flexibility to boost water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California via the Central Valley Project.

The move has touched off new battles with environmental lobbies and the Newsom administration, which countered with lawsuits to halt implementation of the biological opinions and issued its own environmental rules restricting pumping via the State Water Project.

During the roundtable, Trump retold a story of a campaign visit to Tulare where he noticed the stretches of barren land intermixed with small patches of fertile, operating farmland and quizzed Nunes about the region’s water issues.

Nunes took the opportunity to call on Newsom to put a quick end to the latest battle in the water wars.

“The Governor needs to recognize that we have a water crisis in our state – that you’ve recognized,” Nunes said to Trump, noting his cooperative relationship with Newsom over coronavirus. “And he needs to drop the lawsuits and work with us.”

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at [email protected]