Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act, which includes provisions to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan:
“Finally, after weeks of negotiation, House Republicans brought a water resources bill to the Floor. The bill, which authorizes funding for Corps of Engineers projects and creates new programs to help communities address contamination in their drinking water, includes provisions to help the families of Flint, Michigan cope with the tragic and preventable disaster of lead contamination in their drinking water. However, I am disappointed that this bill doesn’t also fund these Flint provisions. In my view, the people of Flint shouldn’t have to wait for a two-step legislative dance, with authorization in this bill and funding in the Continuing Resolution. They have waited long enough.
“When I visited Flint earlier this year, I heard firsthand from the families living with terrible uncertainty and inconvenience at the hands of the Republican state government that failed them. Those who were exposed to lead do not yet know the full extent of the public health challenges they may face in the future as a result of this disaster. What was obvious during my visit was that the community is still served by water infrastructure damaged as a result of irresponsible decisions by state officials. The people there cope day-to-day with stop-gap measures to protect themselves and their families from further lead exposure, such as water filters and bottled water, that are both inconvenient and unconscionable. I’m glad that the House has taken action today, and I commend Rep. Dan Kildee and the rest of the Michigan delegation for their untiring efforts to authorize this much-overdue assistance. Now, we must ensure the funding to pay for that assistance gets to those who need it.
“While I am pleased that we were able to bring a Water Resources Development Act reauthorization bill to the Floor, I remain deeply concerned about some of its other provisions, including the one added at the last minute to address the California drought. Though I have been sympathetic to the water needs of Southern California for some time, the California water management provisions were included by House Republicans without the same kind of open debate, discussion, and careful deliberation that we had for the Flint provisions. Sneaking eighty-nine pages of text into a bill of this importance at the eleventh hour does not represent the kind of open process and regular order that Speaker Ryan promised when he took the gavel last year. I am also sympathetic to the concerns of those who argue that the language in these provisions intended to ensure that the state’s fisheries and endangered species are protected may fall short in their implementation. The next Congress must do better with respect to the process by which we draft legislation and gather information to obtain a full understanding of its consequences.”