Kildee urges action on federal funding plan for Flint

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee is urging a vote on his bill to authorize up to $765 million in federal aid to address the Flint water crisis, announcing Thursday that more than 150 Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors.

The so-called Families of Flint Act, introduced in February, does not have any Republican co-sponsors and continues to face an uncertain future in the GOP-led Congress, which has not yet approved a series of Flint funding proposals.

“Families have waited far too long for the state and federal government to act on aid to help the victims of this man-made crisis,” Kildee said in a statement. “Flint residents are American citizens, and they deserve action by their government in a time of need.”

Kildee’s bill would require a state match for federal funding for lead pipe replacement, wrap-around services for Flint residents exposed to lead, economic development and health monitoring in the city.

Co-sponsors include Michigan’s other four House members — U.S. Reps. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, Brenda Lawrence of Southfield and John Conyers of Detroit.

A separate $220 million Flint-inspired aid package cleared a key U.S. Senate committee last month but has not been put up for a floor vote.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican who first proposed $1 billion in federal aid to replace Flint’s lead-tainted pipes, recently told The News she believes Democrats who have heaped blame for the crisis on GOP Gov. Rick Snyder have hindered the chances of congressional aid.

“When you sit there and keep saying ... it’s all the governor’s fault, really a person who’s a member of Congress from Oregon is saying, ‘Well, why are we giving them money if it’s all the governor’s fault? Can’t Michigan do it then?’ ” said Miller, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year. “It sure makes it more difficult for people like me on the Republican side who want to assist.”

Flint residents continue to rely on bottled and filtered water for their daily needs. The city has returned to Detoit water, but use of the Flint River between April 2014 and October 2015 damaged aging pipes and leached lead into drinking water.

The state Legislature has so far approved $71.7 million in Flint aid. The Senate has approved another $128 million for Flint, a proposal awaiting action in the House.