Newsletter: Essential Politics: Lawmakers squabble over $300 million for the drought amid shutdown threat


I’m Christina Bellantoni, the Essential Politics host today. Let’s get started.

As the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown, a spat over water is bubbling on Capitol Hill.

California Republicans are insisting on including language addressing the state’s drought in a must-pass bill to fund the federal government, over objections from the state’s Democratic delegation. Sarah Wire reports on what sounds like a standoff, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein opposing the insertion of the drought language into a spending bill that hasn’t been publicly vetted.

A Republican aide framed the GOP plan as an emergency proposal to take advantage of the deluge of water when El Niño hits California this winter. The aide said the spending bill is the logical vehicle, as one of the last measures still pending, to address the drought before Congress leaves and the rain begins.

Several California Democrats said on Wednesday they had not yet seen the 92-page proposal, obtained by the Los Angeles Times.


As he made his way out of Paris just a few hours ago, his work at the U.N. climate change summit complete, Gov. Jerry Brown dropped a pretty strong hint: he might wade in to the 2016 initiative battles coming to a ballot near you.

Chris Megerian reports that the governor has almost $24 million in his campaign coffers left over from 2014, plenty of cash to enter the fray. But when it comes to exactly what Brown has up his sleeve, for now he’s playing coy.

The interview came at the close of Brown's whirlwind few days at the climate summit.

Keep up with the climate change talks in Paris on our live blog as negotiators race to meet a Friday deadline.


Lisa Henson and David Pressler are hosting what is being billed as a "family celebration" at the Jim Henson Co. Lot in Los Angeles for Hillary Clinton on Jan. 7, according to an invitation obtained by The Times. Lisa is Jim Henson’s daughter and CEO of the company that the Muppets built. Pressler, a well-known artist and illustrator, is her husband.

The afternoon fundraising event costs $500 for general admission, $1,000 for one adult and one child under age 16 and $2,700 for two adults and children. Or, event hosts can raise $10,000 or contribute $5,400 in primary dollars for a family photo with Clinton for two adults and children.

The Times obtained a second invitation for three Clinton fundraising events on Jan. 8.

They range from $500 per person to $2,700 per person. One is billed as a "conversation," another is a "family celebration" at the Innovation Hangar in San Francisco, the third is at the home of Sarah and Greg Sands in Palo Alto.


Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) threw her hat in the ring Wednesday for a top leadership position in Congress.

Roll Call reports that the current vice chair of the caucus, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and the current chair, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) are facing term limits for those positions in 2017.

Sanchez will square off against Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who announced her bid for the vice chairmanship over the summer.

In a letter to fellow Democrats, Sanchez asked for their backing as she seeks to become vice chair of the Democratic Caucus. "I believe with your support I can help lead our caucus as we continue to fight for the hard working Americans who are counting on us," Sanchez wrote. "When called upon, I never shy away from taking on difficult assignments."

Sanchez highlighted her 13 years of experience, her chairmanship of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and her service on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, the Ethics Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi.


Javier Panzar has learned Los Angeles attorney Bryan Caforio is the latest Democratic challenger going after Rep. Steve Knight (R-Lancaster). Caforio plans to announce his candidacy Thursday for the 25th district seat, a potential swing district stretching from Simi Valley to Palmdale in northern Los Angeles County.

The district is split evenly between Democrat and Republican voters, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won there by two points in 2012. Caforio and his wife Lisa, a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles, recently moved into the district, settling in Valencia.

And for those who will label Caforio a carpetbagger, he is sure to mention his wife’s second great-grand-uncle Leo Harris, the early Antelope Valley pioneer who in 1909 started running a general merchandise store in Lancaster. The store was so old that it even housed the Lancaster post office for 10 years, according to the Jewish Museum of the American West.


-- On the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) began reading aloud the name and age of each person who has died in mass shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012. He said he will continue to read the names in a series of one-minute speeches until House leaders allow a vote on legislation to address gun violence.

"We stand here in this building, the United States Capitol, secured by police at every door, and do nothing, while men, women and children are being shot dead in broad daylight in public places across this nation. Yet the Speaker of the House cannot summon the courage to let Congress act on even one of any number of bipartisan gun safety proposals that could save lives," he said in a news release.

Watch him read the first 23 names.

-- Mike Memoli delivers a profile of Ernest Moniz, whose role both on the Iran negotiations and at a major United Nations climate summit underway in Paris shows the degree to which the 70-year-old former MIT professor has earned the trust of the president, a rarity for a relatively obscure Cabinet post.

-- Michael Finnegan introduces you to an Iowa repo man who loves Donald Trump.

-- And Seema Mehta gets New Hampshire voters to weigh in.

-- In his column, George Skelton says Trump’s rhetoric sounds a lot like the push for internment camps.


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