Flint water crisis: Senate Dems want vote on legislation this week; “We want something done”
FLINT, Michigan — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday his caucus will push for votes this week to respond to the dangerous lead crisis in the Flint, Michigan, water supply.
He wouldn’t give details of the legislation but said it will be unveiled Thursday by the two Democratic senators from Michigan, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
“We want something to be done because this is an issue that’s going to come back,” Reid said at a news conference. “We have a lot of communities around this country that have lead pipes and very deteriorating water systems. So that’s something we want to focus on for sure.”
It’s uncertain if Republicans will agree to hold votes on the issue, which would be offered as one or more amendments to an unrelated energy policy bill currently on the floor.
A top GOP aide refused to speculate without knowing the content of the Democratic plan. The aide also pointed out that a recently enacted government funding bill included $80 million to assist Flint with the problem.
Also Wednesday, the Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced he will hold a hearing on the Flint water contamination next Wednesday. Details of will testify were not immediately released.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, said Republicans would be put in an uncomfortable position if they don’t support the Democrats’ plan.
“I don’t know how they would explain it if they don’t support an amendment to protect children from water that’s deadly,” he said.
Asked if the Democratic plan would cost money, Durbin said, “Of course it will.”
At the news conference, Durbin blamed the lead poisoning situation on the “lack of proper government oversight.”
“The next time someone from the other party stands in front of this mic and starts railing against government regulation, I hope you will raise two words to them: Flint, Michigan,” Durbin said.
Local, state, and federal officials have all pointed fingers of blame at one another for not recognizing and responding to the water crisis earlier.