An unusual, behind-the-scenes attack launched by Gov. Gavin Newsom against Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) and Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) over on-going flooding in the south Valley has prompted a clapback from the two Valley lawmakers.
Last week, Newsom issued a private letter to the two Congressmen assailing them for an allegedly sluggish Federal response to the overflow of water in the region.
The backstory: On May 11, Newsom tendered a letter referring to the two Valley lawmakers as having “refused to act” on the issue.
- Following months of downpours, Newsom only recently visited Corcoran, ahead of his administration’s decision to finance a raise of the levee.
Driving the news: The letter comes on the heels of largely cordial relations on the issue of winter storms and Valley-based flooding, with the pair praising Newsom for moving $17 million to cover the upfront costs of raising the Corcoran Levee on the newly-reconstituted Tulare Lake.
- Typically, supplemental Federal emergency response for such issues is triggered when local and state resources are exhausted and the disaster has largely concluded. Given the oncoming “Big Melt,” any additional Federal support will be months from triggering.
- Despite that, Valadao has already introduced language in the Agriculture and FDA appropriations bill expedite expenditures within the affected southern Kings County communities.
- A key element of the delays, however, lies with the Newsom administration for failing to report the amount of Federal support required to assist southern Kings County in a supplemental spending bill.
What they’re saying: Valadao issues a lengthy response to Newsom’s letter on Thursday.
- “It is extremely disappointing [Gov. Newsom] is politicizing flood response in the Central Valley. My team & I have been in constant contact with local, state, and federal partners to assist in response and recovery,” Valadao tweeted Thursday. “I’ve been working w/ your office, local leaders, FEMA, USDA/FSA, SBA, CalOES, and my CA House & Senate colleagues since the storms began. It has been an all-hands-on-deck, nonpartisan approach to keep our constituents safe & ensure the Valley has the resources they need.”
- “As you are well aware, each agency has specific roles to play. We have been working to help our constituents navigate this very bureaucratic and confusing system for disaster response,” the Hanford lawmaker continued. “In your letter, you wrote Congress “failed to act”. As you know, Congress cannot wave a magic wand and write a blank check. We need to know from the state, exactly how much money is needed in order for the federal government to supplement local and state efforts.”
- “The Central Valley is my home – I care about my community and the people who live here. Flood response and ensuring the safety of my constituents is not political and never should be,” Valadao said.
- “This letter is nothing more than political posturing from the governor on an issue that is completely nonpartisan,” Faith Mabry, Valadao’s spokeswoman told The Sun. “Rep. Valadao and our team have been in close communication with the governor’s office and local leaders in the Central Valley since the storms began – for Newsom to play politics on flood response is shameful and incredibly disappointing.”
- Brittany Martinez, McCarthy’s spokeswoman, issued the following statement: “Governor Newsom talks about solving real problems facing real people, but his own past budgets have actually cut flood protection funding and failed to make necessary investments to expand surface water storage in our state to help capture more snowmelt runoff.”
- “It’s a shame that Newsom chooses to fracture the bipartisan working relationship he has established with the Speaker and the entire California Congressional Delegation, which has consistently worked with him to ensure residents and businesses have the resources they need following earthquakes, fires, floods, and other natural disasters,” Martinez continued. “But given the fiscal mismanagement in Sacramento where a $100 billion surplus has turned into a $30 billion deficit, it’s no surprise that the Governor continues to deflect from his own failures by blaming others. And, as the Governor is acutely aware, it was only after the Speaker’s urging that the Biden administration actually issued a Major Disaster Declaration following those storms.”