ICYMI: It’s time for Congress to erase party lines and deliver a fix for Flint water
By U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Fred Upton
Before the 114th Congress comes to an end in less than a month, we in Congress need to come together, Republicans and Democrats, to step up and help the people of Flint.
Families in Flint have not been able to trust the drinking water coming out of their tap in more than two years. A federal judge recently ruled that the state of Michigan must deliver bottled water to Flint residents who lack access to safe drinking water. Bottled water and filters, however, are only temporary solutions.
Simply put, Flint needs action now. It is time for Congress to make the necessary investment to repair the water infrastructure in Flint. The Flint water crisis represents a failure of government. Considering the federal government's failure to blow the whistle on what was happening in Flint, Congress needs to use its power to immediately deliver much needed relief that the families in Flint deserve.
This is why both of us will continue to fight to make sure our colleagues in Congress understand the importance of passing legislation that includes aid for Flint before the end of the year. This will be a continuation of more than a year of our work together to help Flint. These efforts serve as an example to our colleagues in Congress that helping Flint families and children is not a partisan issue.
Just this past August, we were in Flint together. No matter where we went, we both heard firsthand the same voices. Folks are tired of the partisan blame game. They want answers. And they want results.
Earlier this year, we jointly introduced the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act, a commonsense bill that would require state and federal government officials to notify citizens immediately when the government learns of lead contamination in drinking water. This bill passed in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly with a vote of 416 to 2.
In addition, we both requested that the federal government declare Flint a federal emergency, which allowed significant resources like millions of bottles of water, thousands of filters, hundreds of federal health and water experts and over $400 million in federal grants to reach the ground and people in need.
Moreover, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a forward-looking hearing on the Flint water crisis in April to hear from health experts like Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha about the medical needs of the community.
Finally, nearly the entire Michigan delegation in the House voted for an amendment to send $170 million in aid to Flint. This amendment passed the House by a vote of 284 to 141, with more than 100 Republicans in support. While each of these steps forward has been important for Flint, they are not enough.
Now that Congress is back, we will have one goal -- ensuring our colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, join us in sending much needed aid to the people of Flint. We both plan on continuing to vigorously pursue these funding efforts -- whether that is part of a bipartisan water infrastructure package or in any year-end legislation to keep the government funded.
Before we are Republican or Democrat, we are Americans. And part of being an American is helping those in need -- be it the people impacted by the flooding in Louisiana and Texas or those harmed by the water crisis in Flint. When their fellow citizens are in need, Americans come together, and we are committed to making sure their Congress will do the same to help the people of Flint. We will not stop until the work is done.