Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Opening a weekend trip to California, President Barack Obama on Friday will offer millions in federal aid for the drought-stricken state, then hold an unusual West Coast meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II, a key U.S. partner in the Middle East.
After wrapping up his official business, Obama will spend the weekend at Southern California's sprawling Sunnylands estate, where there's little on the agenda besides a few rounds of golf.
California is in the midst of its worst drought in more than 100 years. Obama will meet with farmers in the Fresno area, where he'll announce more than $160 million in federal financial aid, including $100 million in the farm bill he signed into law last week for programs that cover the loss of livestock.
The overall package includes smaller amounts to aid in the most extreme drought areas and to help food banks that serve families affected by the water shortage. Obama also will call on federal facilities in California to immediately limit water consumption.
The president will also call on Congress to pass a $1 billion "climate resilience fund" to invest in research on climate change and support new technologies and infrastructure to make the country more resilient to a changing climate. The fund would also help communities prepare more effectively for the impacts of climate change.
Obama will include the measure in the budget blueprint he'll send to Congress next month. But the fund is unlikely to get backing from most Republicans, and it's unclear how much political capital Obama is willing to exert to get the initiative through the divided Congress.
Later Friday, Obama was meeting Jordan's King Abdullah II at Sunnylands for talks covering the Mideast peace process, Syria and other issues. It's unusual for Obama to host world leaders outside of the White House, though he did hold a two-day summit at Sunnylands last year with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Obama's meetings with Abdullah will be much shorter — just a brief meeting Friday night, followed by a working dinner. The White House gave few details about why the meeting had to take place in California, particularly given that Abdullah spent much of the past week in Washington and met with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Friday said only that the Sunnylands estate "offers a private location and less formal setting that will allow the president to have a wide-ranging discussion with the king."
After the king departs, Obama was expected to spend Presidents Day weekend on the golf course at Sunnylands. He's traveling without first lady Michelle Obama.
The White House has been closely watching the California drought, which follows a year of the lowest rainfall on record. The drought has also brought to a head political warfare over the state's water resources that feed major cities, the country's richest agricultural region and waterways that provide habitat for endangered species of fish.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17. Obama telephoned him several days later for an update on the situation.
Farmers recently learned they will not be receiving irrigation water from the State Water Project, a system of rivers, canals and reservoirs. They anticipate a similar announcement later this month from federal authorities who operate a similar system called the Central Valley Project.
Federal officials, including Vilsack, earlier this month pledged $34 million to help farmers and ranchers conserve scarce water supplies, improve irrigation methods, head off erosion of unplanted fields and create better ways to water livestock.
- From 0.3 to 81.1: What percentage of each...
- Oil slicks found in hunt for Malaysia jet...
- 2 on missing Malaysia jet used stolen EU...
- Rutgers faculty council pushes for school to...
- Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
- Half of millennials more likely to lean...
- Survey: Cost a growing factor in college...
- Early auditions for 2016 Republican...
- No longer loyal to Boy Scouts of... 52
- Obama administration allows 2-year... 28
- Putin: Russia has right to use force in... 21
- Disney ending funding to Boy Scouts in... 21
- Half of millennials more likely to lean... 13
- Obama appeals to Democrats in 2015... 12
- Former IRS official Lois Lerner again... 11
- Ukrainian software professionals... 10