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New compromise on money for the Flint water crisis might avert federal government shutdown

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Image of the U.S. Capitol

Michigan congressmen helped craft a funding solution for Flint’s water crisis that might avert a federal government shutdown.

Democrats are opposing a continuing budget resolution unless money to replace Flint’s pipes is included.   Without the resolution, the federal government would shut down at the end of the month.

Last night, a compromise amendment was proposed to the House version of the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA. The Senate version of the bill contained money for Flint.  But the House version previously did not.

Many House Republicans object to the federal government spending money on what they say is a state and local problem. Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead after the city’s tap water source was switched from Detroit to the Flint River in 2014. 

Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland, helped draft the amendment.

“I believe there is a federal role,” says Moolenaar, pointing to the EPA’s failure to act early on in the Flint water crisis. “This is something we can do within this legislation to not only help in the situation in Flint but also provides a reasonable path forward for our country.”

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has long championed the Vehicle City’s plight in Congress. He’s glad the House may finally be ready to act.

Moolenaar expects the final bill won't go before Congress until after the November election.

“The people of my hometown have waited over two years for their government to help them in their time of need,” Kildee said in a written statement, “We will continue to fight until Flint aid reaches the President’s desk.”

The U.S. House will debate the amendment later today. However, that is not the end of the process.

Moolenaar says the House and Senate versions of the WRDA bill are different. A conference committee will need to hammer out a compromise bill. 

Moolenaar expects the final bill won’t go before Congress until after the November election. 

If it passes, it’s unclear how long it will take for the money to reach the city of Flint. 

As of Tuesday, the city had replaced 155 lead service lines. It’s estimated there could be 10,000 pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains that continue to leech lead into the city’s drinking water.

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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