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Upton: Money for Flint water crisis on federal 'short list'

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) stopped by a water distribution center in Flint.

A top Republican lawmaker says money for Flint’s water crisis is on “the short list” as Congress returns to work next week.

During a tour of Flint today, Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) was briefed on water distribution efforts in the city of nearly 100,000.

“The demand has not gone down,” one distribution center supervisor told Upton and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint). 

A year ago, tests confirmed Flint’s tap water was contaminated with lead. Experts believe improperly treated water from the Flint River damaged city pipes. The result was lead flaking from the pipes and ending up in the tap water.

Recent state tests show Flint’s tap water is continuing to show declining, though still unsatisfactory levels of lead.   

Earlier this year, President Obama declared a federal emergency in Flint. That brought federal money to pay for bottled water and filters. However, the declaration expired last month. Now, the state government is footing the bill.

Many people in Flint feel the federal government has forgotten them, especially since a federal emergency declaration expired.

But Upton insists that’s not so. 

“It is on the short list,” Upton told reporters today, “Not only from the White House side, but I can say on the congressional side as well.”

But as short lists go, it’s a rather long list.

Upton says Congress is looking at funding the government’s response to the Zika outbreak, a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and planning for the next fiscal year. 

Congress will meet during the month of September before breaking to campaign before the November general election.

Upton says money for Flint, along with other cities facing similar infrastructure problems, may likely have to wait for an omnibus funding bill. Work on the omnibus bill may land in the lame duck session after the November election.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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