Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday will highlight the problems caused by Western drought as she visits Lake Mead in Nevada and makes the case for the Biden administration's infrastructure and climate change proposals that have stalled in Congress.
After a tour, the vice president will make remarks and meet with officials from the Interior Department and other federal and state agencies, including the Southern Nevada Water Authority. She will be joined by U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford of Nevada.
Water levels at Lake Mead — created in the 1930s by the damming of the Colorado River — have fallen to record lows. In August, federal officials declared the first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River. As a result, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will receive less water than normal next year amid a drought gripping much of the West.
In September, Reclamation released projections showing an even worse outlook for the river.
Against this backdrop, the vice president is expected to promote President Joe Biden's big domestic policy agenda — originally billed at $3.5 trillion — for which Democrats are struggling to win moderates' support.
That agenda includes climate provisions the Biden administration has said would make the U.S. more resilient against the effects of climate change. Key elements include imposing new emissions restrictions through a federal clean energy requirement and providing tax breaks for the electrical vehicles industry.
Harris will also emphasize that climate change is poised to make extreme weather events such as droughts and heatwaves more frequent, expensive and harmful, White House officials said.
Officials said Harris will discuss the separate $1 trillion public works infrastructure deal that passed the Senate months ago and is awaiting House approval. That package contains roughly $8 billion for Western water projects.
Some of the ways the plan would combat the effects of drought include investments in desalination technology that makes sea water usable, fortifying rural water infrastructure and building more wastewater recycling technology to help stretch existing supplies.
Western states experienced a dangerously hot summer that resulted in hundreds of deaths in the Pacific Northwest and brought scores of record-breaking wildfires intensified by drought.
Officials said Harris will also discuss how water shortages affect farmers, the nation's food supply and the economy.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.