The House of Representatives Tuesday added $45.4 million to the authorization level of the Colorado River Storage Project Act - a fraction of the amount originally sought by Utah members of Congress - to keep the Central Utah water project alive through fiscal year 1990.
The increase was approved by a procedure that avoided sending the bill to the Rules Committee and a full-fledged floor debate.The measure now goes to the Senate, too late for regular committee consideration there. A spokesman for Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, said Garn will hold the bill at the desk, a procedure to avoid sending it to committee. If no other senator objects the bill could be taken up and passed possibly next week.
According to the spokesman, Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., chairman of the water subcommittee, has agreed to the bypassing of his committee. Garn said senators who threatened to place "holds" on the bill have lifted those threats and Garn has removed holds he threatened on other Western-interest legislation.
In the House, Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, managed the bill on the floor during a brief debate. He described the measure as a stopgap to carry CUP until more comprehensive legislation to authorize the remaining cost can be worked out with competing interests.
Owens said that "we are almost there in our negotiations," but added that "time has run out on the 100th Congress to pass a larger bill."
He said after the bill passed, that although Upper Colorado Basin commissioners seem close to an agreement on future project financing, Arizona, a lower-basin state, is still opposed.
"I'm not sure what to do about that," he said. Arizona, he said, would pay higher power rates from CRSP dams without gaining anything in return.
Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said on the floor that he was not so sure the negotiations were "almost there."
Nielson supported the bill, but noted the larger version faces difficulties next session.
Rep. John Rhodes, R-Ariz., who supported the $45.4 million bill, said he would not back a larger version "until several concerns are resolved."