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S. 612: WIIN Act

Dec 10, 2016 at 12:57 a.m. ET. On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to S. 612) in the Senate.

This was a vote to pass S. 612 (114th) in the Senate.

The WIIN (Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation) Act was a 277-page bill dealing with federal water policies, particularly for drought-stricken areas. It’s so complex and difficult to encapsulate that the Congressional Research Service’s official summary ran more than 15,000 words — and that was just the summary. (The bill itself ran about 107,000 words.)

Supporters argued the bill helped states going through severe droughts and water crises at the time, particularly America’s most populous state: California.

“I’m pleased the Senate swiftly passed historic federal water policy legislation that will deliver much-needed relief to drought-stricken communities across the West. This bill also delivers positive outcomes for Native Americans on a range of important water resources development projects and approval of long-standing water rights settlement agreements,” House Natural Resources Committee then-Chair Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT1) said in a press release at the time. “This is a good bill built on a foundation of stakeholder input and bipartisan collaboration to help people and the environment.”

Opponents included one of the bill’s main original sponsors, of all people.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23) helped insert a controversial rider to the legislation at the last minute. Ostensibly meant to provide more water to California during its drought, the rider permitted the incoming Trump administration to increase pumping from the state’s rivers by overruling determinations to protect certain animals under the Endangered Species Act.

“This is an earmark. This is wrong. This is painful. This violates the Endangered Species Act. This is going to lead to the courthouse door,” then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said on the Senate floor. “It is really painful for me to have to filibuster my own bill.”

Introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the bill passed the House by 360–61, then the Senate two days later by 78–21, and it was one of the last laws President Barack Obama ever signed.


All Votes R D I
Yea 79%
Nay 21%
Not Voting

Motion Agreed to. Simple Majority Required. Source:

The Yea votes represented 75% of the country’s population by apportioning each state’s population to its voting senators.

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Republican - Yea Democrat - Yea Republican - Nay Democrat - Nay
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