House Passes $170 Million Flint Aid Package Championed by Congressman Dan Kildee
December 8, 2016
Relief Would Help Replace Lead Pipes, Remove Lead from Homes and Expand Health Care for Those Exposed to Lead
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed $170 million in federal aid directed at helping Flint recover from the city’s ongoing water crisis. Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), who for over a year has advocated for congressional action for Flint, applauded the action on two House bills related to Flint that now move to the U.S. Senate.
“Getting aid for my hometown of Flint, which continues to recover from the ongoing water crisis, has been my top priority in Congress, and I am happy to see this aid package move forward,” Congressman Kildee said. “Flint families have waited far too long for their government to act but I am pleased that over a hundred million dollars in real federal aid for Flint is a big step closer to becoming reality.”
The House today passed both a water resources bill, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), which included authorizing language regarding Flint aid, by a vote of 360-61, and the Continuing Resolution (CR), the end-of-year government spending bill that included the appropriations money for Flint, by a vote of 326-96. Congressman Kildee urged swift action on both bills in the U.S. Senate to get the two bills to the President’s desk and signed into law. Both Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters support the bills passed by the House.
“I applaud the House for passing our bipartisan agreement to provide long-awaited assistance for families in Flint and other communities affected by lead. It’s absolutely critical that the Senate do the same and pass both the Water Resources Development Act and the government funding bill. That is the only way we can guarantee that families affected by this terrible crisis get the assistance they need. The people of Flint have waited far too long for their water system to be fixed so they can have confidence that their water is safe!” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said.
“I am pleased that the House has passed legislation with critical provisions to help the residents of Flint, who have waited entirely too long for assistance in the wake of this water crisis. It is critical that the Senate act swiftly to pass not just the year end spending bill, but also the water infrastructure bill which is the only way to get Flint the support it needs on its road to recovery,” U.S. Senator Gary Peters said.
The aid, which is a result of weeks of bipartisan negotiations between Congressman Kildee, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI-01) and others, includes:
- $100 million for the Safe Water Drinking Act State Revolving Loan Fund, which Flint could use to replace lead service lines and other water infrastructure improvement needs.
- $50 million for expanded health care, including the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Healthy Start Program and money to create a lead exposure registry.
- $20 million in loans available through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which would be available to Flint and other communities for water infrastructure improvement projects to address lead and other water contamination issues.
About Congressman Kildee’s Advocacy for Flint:
Congressman Kildee has been a tireless advocate for Flint families and has led the fight in Congress to bring federal funding to the city in the wake of the water crisis. Since learning of the water crisis, Congressman Kildee has never stopped working with his colleagues in Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – and the Obama Administration to make sure that Flint receives the resources it needs to recover.
Bringing Attention to the Crisis
Since September 2015, when the world learned of Flint’s man-made lead in water crisis, Congressman Kildee vocally fought for resources for the city. He immediately spoke out, calling on Governor Rick Snyder, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-01) to bring attention to the crisis and urge them to bring resources to Flint.
Pushing for Federal Aid
Congressman Kildee has worked with the Obama Administration to already bring hundreds of millions in federal dollars to Flint.
In January 2016, at Congressman Kildee’s request, President Obama declared the water crisis in Flint a state of emergency. Immediately following, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplied bottled water and water filters with replacement cartridges for Flint families. Later that same month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allocated $80 million from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to Michigan to help Flint.
In March 2016, at Congressman Kildee’s request, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved Medicaid expansion for thousands of children and pregnant women in Flint so that they could have access to the health care that they need to recover from lead exposure. Furthermore, HHS awarded $3.5 million to expand Head Start for Flint children.
In June 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expanded healthy food assistance benefits for over 23,000 children to help purchase fruits and vegetables.
Advocating for Flint in Congress
Throughout the crisis, Congressman Kildee has refused to let Flint families be forgotten; he frequently took to the floor of the House of Representatives to remind Congress that Flint families continue to struggle to recover from the ongoing crisis, and that Congress needed to act on federal aid immediately.
In February 2016, Congressman Kildee testified before the U.S. House of Oversight and Government Reform Committee to tell Flint’s story and make sure Flint families received the justice they deserved.
The same month, Congressman Kildee, along with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), held a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing where they heard from public health experts, including Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha, and local officials on the causes and lessons of the water crisis. Congressman Kildee invited Governor Rick Snyder to testify at the hearing, but the Governor declined.
Congressional Delegations to Flint
From February to September of 2016, Congressman Kildee hosted four separate congressional delegations to Flint, hosting over 30 Members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – in Flint. During the trips, Congressman Kildee led Leader Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC-06), Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06), leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus and others to meet with families, business owners and community leaders in Flint to see first-hand the crisis there.
While keeping Flint in the national spotlight, Congressman Kildee introduced several pieces of legislation to provide relief for Flint families to recover from the water crisis and ensure that another lead in water crisis doesn’t happen in other communities.
In February 2016, Congressman Kildee introduced the Families of Flint Act, a comprehensive bill that sought to address the immediate and long-term investments in Flint. This legislation started a national conversation about Flint in Congress and provided the basis and starting point for the passage of today’s passed Flint aid package. The Families of Flint Act had the support of 173 Members of Congress.
Additionally, in February 2016, Congressman Kildee and Congressman Upton introduced a bipartisan bill to strengthen requirements to have the EPA more quickly notify the public when concentrations of lead in drinking water are above federal requirements, working to ensure the Flint tragedy can never happen again. This bill passed the House on February 10, 2016, with an overwhelming 416-2 bipartisan vote and was included in today’s passed Flint aid package.
In July 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two amendments offered by Congressman Kildee allowing Flint to be relieved of existing loan burdens more quickly and provide $3 million to fund the city of Flint’s share of a testing pipe loop that would allow for testing of water from a future source, the Karegnondi Water Authority, before the water source is changed. Language to allow loan forgiveness is included in the Continuing Resolution.
In September 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a strong bipartisan vote of 399-25, passed H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which included Congressman Kildee’s amendment with Congressman John Moolenaar (MI-04), which authorized $170 million to help repair Flint’s water infrastructure. The Kildee-Moolenaar amendment passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 284-141, with support from 101 Republicans and 183 Democrats.
Today’s passage of Flint aid in the House as part of a broader water resources bill is a culmination of over a years’ worth of engagement, advocacy and work by Congressman Kildee for the residents of his hometown. In the face of opposition, Congressman Kildee never let Congress forget about Flint families and worked with all of his colleagues to deliver bipartisan funding to the city of Flint.