A number of Congressional Democrats—including every Democrat in the Michigan Congressional Delegation—announced they’re going to battle after emergency funding for Flint was removed from a government-funding bill.
The issue is swiftly becoming the pivotal matter on which a government shutdown may rest. If the impasse lingers, it will likely invite more national scrutiny to Flint’s water crisis, and with that, further squabbling over the allocation of blame.
Minority leadership in the U.S. Senate coalesced to block a vote on the bill that would keep the government funded for the next 10 weeks, due to the exclusion of funding for Flint as it still grapples with the water crisis. Republicans have accused the Democrats of political motivations underscoring the action.
The provision looks to provide $220 million in aid to the city and is fully funded.
Despite broad bipartisan support in the Senate, it has been stonewalled in the House, where leadership asserts the funding would be better placed in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
When U.S. Rep. Dan KILDEE (D-Flint) reportedly attempted to introduce the funding to that legislation as an amendment in committee, it was rejected when Republicans split over whether it had proper jurisdiction there.
Party leadership has since become the point people for the showdown, but all of Michigan’s Congressional Democrats had their moment in the spotlight earlier today when they spoke at a press conference on the issue, vowing to vote against the funding bill until a solution is found.
U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Lansing) said at the conference she had her hopes lifted by the Senate’s 95-3 approval of the original package, only to be dashed in the House when the Republican leadership refused to include the same funding.
It seems the prioritization of Louisiana disaster relief over aid to Flint has inspired particular rancor.
“Today we’re going to have a vote and we’re going to send it back to the drawing board to get this right. If, in fact, the people of Flint have to wait again, then the people of Louisiana can join them in that wait until the end of the year,” Stabenow said. “We don’t want that; we’re not suggesting that. We’re suggesting that now is the time to have a sense of urgency about a set of disasters that were not created by any of the people involved, and we can do something together in a bipartisan way to actually get help to those who need it.”
Senate Republicans argue the funding could find a home in WRDA, but as The Hill notes, waiting until a later iteration of the bill could prove problematic for Democrats who are looking to claim credit for taking substantive action on Flint’s troubles before November.