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By Rachel Leven
Sept. 9 — The potential for Congress to provide federal funds to address damages from flooding in Louisiana may offer an opportunity for getting lawmakers to send money to Flint, Mich., Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 9.
While Kildee declined to state specifics, he said he has talked to Louisiana lawmakers about getting Congress to send funds to both communities. In Flint, the damages center on the widespread exposure of the city’s residents to high levels of lead in their drinking water for more than a year.
“It would be tough for me to accept the idea that we’re going to deal with these emerging crises and leave one of them out, so I would push very hard that Flint ought to be included,” Kildee said. “When it comes to storms or disasters or emergencies, there are specific communities that need help.”
Proposals for Congress to send funding to Flint for water infrastructure improvements and other issues related to the lead contamination of its drinking water have languished in Congress for months, as the Michigan delegation has run into hurdles such as a ban on earmarks. And while a Senate water resources bill (S. 2848) that is expected to pass the chamber during the next several days includes a funding package that would help Flint, Kildee told Bloomberg BNA he is still looking at other legislative vehicles to move the money to the finish line.
“At this point in time, really the sooner the better,” Kildee said, pointing to the upcoming continuing resolution to keep the government open as another option to tack on funding. “Really the question is whether there’s the will here in the House to do what we would do for any community facing crisis.”
Kildee and the rest of the Michigan delegation aren’t the only ones expressing urgency to Congress about getting this funding to Flint and other communities affected by high levels of lead in their drinking water.
The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 62 other groups urged Senators in a letter sent Sept. 8 to address these needs by passing its Senate water resources bill. The bill is the “the best and most viable legislative proposal to respond to the disaster in Flint,” the groups said in their letter.
“No amount of lead exposure is safe! The people of Flint are still suffering the physical, emotional, and financial toll of this disaster,” the environmentalists, social justice groups and others said in their letter. “We urge you to act immediately to move forward with effective relief efforts to help the Flint community begin long-term recovery from this environmental disaster.”
The letter is available at http://src.bna.com/irP.
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