Bipartisan U.S. Senate negotiators on Wednesday dropped from a stalled energy bill their $250 million funding package to address the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but will continue to seek a way to secure the aid.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), one of the negotiators, lifted her hold to allow the energy bill to proceed without the Flint funding. She took aim at Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) for his continued hold on the Flint portion of the bill.
“It’s totally unacceptable that Sen. Lee continues to block a vote on our fully-paid for, bipartisan agreement to help Flint and other communities across the nation who have serious lead and water problems,” Stabenow said in a statement. “This is about something as basic as making sure families have clean water to drink and children with lead poisoning get the help they need.”
A Senate Republican aide told Rewire that this latest action is not expected, at the moment, to affect the ultimate funding amount.
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The aide could not speculate on next steps, but said that the Water Resources Development Act, one of the few major bills expected to move in the Senate in the coming months, could provide a legislative vehicle for Flint funding.
Two years after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration switched Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the corrosive Flint River, some 100,000 residents of the predominantly Black city are still being forced to drink, cook with, and bathe their children in bottled water.
Stabenow and U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) have headed the Flint aid negotiations in the chamber.
“We will not give up until this gets done using whatever legislative vehicle it takes,” Stabenow said.