This Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledged that the drinking water in Flint, Michigan had been poisoned with lead. (NOTE: That will be Day 366 on the Eclectablog Flint Water Crisis Watch counter because 2016 is a Leap Year.)
In reality, Flint residents haven’t had safely drinkable tap water for nearly two years. It took Snyder over a year to respond. And to say that there has been a “response” is generous. To date, very few lead service lines in Flint have been replaced and most of those had nothing to do with the Snyder administration’s efforts. To compound the problem, the Republican-led Congress has completely punted on funding to help the beleaguered city.
Last week, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 95-3. This legislation has $270 million in funding for Flint in it. However, the House version of the bill has exactly zero dollars for Flint.
To make matters worse, a continuing resolution put forth on Friday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep the government open through the rest of the year has no funding for Flint either. It does, however, have half a billion dollars in disaster relief for Louisiana to deal with recent massive flooding.
Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee was livid:
“It sends a pretty strong message,” Kildee said. “What is it about Flint that distinguishes it from these other places that rightfully qualify for help? I support helping the people of Louisiana. I am all in. What I cannot accept is a bunch of excuses, a bunch of irrelevant excuses that again leave Flint behind. It is a poor community. It is a majority African American community. It is very difficult to believe that if the conditions in Flint had occurred in a much more affluent community. … I have no doubt in my mind that the response would have been different.”
Rep. Kildee also released this statement:
“Today Republicans introduced a bill that would fund the government for two and a half months, but it fails to include any aid for my hometown of Flint, Michigan. This is simply unacceptable. The people of Flint have been unable to drink their water for over two years. It is time for Congress to turn words in action.
“Many Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have traveled to Flint and have expressed that they wish there was something they could do to help these folks. While sympathy expresses sentiment, it doesn’t provide clean drinking water for the people of my hometown. Republicans have a chance to act and need to include aid for Flint in the upcoming continuing resolution.”
It’s possible that Flint funding will be added when the WRDA goes to the conference committee to hash out the final language of the bill. But it shouldn’t need to be added. House Republicans should have included it from the start. Flint residents have already waited too long.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are insistent that they will not support the continuing resolution unless Flint aid is included, a gambit that could shut down the federal government. And, if you’re going to take that draconian step, there are few issues more worthy of doing it over than helping out Flint.
In other Flint news, the Deputy Chief Investigator on Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Flint Water Investigative Team, Ellis Stafford, was arrested over the weekend on a drink driving charge and has resigned.
It’s just another bit of scandal in a very long line of scandals associated with the Flint water crisis and a disgusting metaphor for the entire debacle.