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ICYMI: Sen. Cruz Resolution on Texas Water Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Case You Missed It: New legislation by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), would enhance support for U.S. diplomats and officials seeking to secure Mexican compliance with the 1944 Treaty on Utilization of Waters of the Colorado, Tijuana, and Rio Grande Rivers, and to ensure future deliveries of water by Mexico are predictable and reliable.

Politico Pro’s Morning Agriculture story below:

FIRST IN MA: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is planning to introduce a bill this week that would heighten enforcement resources for U.S. diplomats and officials to force compliance on a 1944 U.S.-Mexico water treaty.

The legislation, which Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is co-sponsoring, is the newest plan to push Mexico to deliver payments of water to the U.S. as required under the 80-year-old treaty.

Farmers in the Rio Grande Valley are facing another year of billion-dollar losses because Mexico has fallen behind on the payments of water that are due every five years, according to the State Department.

The new legislation specifically directs the secretary of State to use any resources necessary to support the International Boundary and Water Commission, which administers the treaty, to make deliveries of water from Mexico more reliable.

A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to support a water rights amendment Cruz introduced in November that would force compliance from Mexico. It didn’t receive enough support, though, to overcome a filibuster.

“Mexico has consistently failed to uphold its end of the bargain when it comes to supplying the U.S. with water,” Cruz said in a statement. “Mexican officials are now so far in arrears, they will be unable to comply with the treaty and will fall short for the current cycle.”

Cornyn highlighted the need for federal action on the treaty’s enforcement, especially due to imminently harsh drought conditions in the Texas summer.

In the field: Brian Jones, who represents southernmost counties along the Texas-Mexico border on the Texas Farm Bureau’s state board of directors, said farms and businesses will “definitely” shut if water availability doesn’t change soon.

Jones, who has spent 38 years as a producer in Texas, typically hires three employees. This year, he’s cut back to one full-time and one part-time and planted half his normal amount of grain sorghum “entirely because of the lack of water.”

“Lots and lots of people are doing the same thing around here,” Jones told MA.

Administration response: The State Department told congressional staff in a briefing last week that the department is discussing solutions internally and continuing to engage with Mexico’s government, a spokesperson for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) confirmed to MA.

The department is urging Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sign a new water agreement, the Rio Grande Minute, which would avoid “recurring crises” at the end of the five-year cycle outlined in the 1944 treaty through incentivizing earlier delivery of the water, according to a State Department spokesperson.