Flint mayor meets briefly with Trump

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver briefly met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday and urged continued support for her city during an ongoing water contamination crisis, according to her office.

The Republican president visited Ypsilanti, where he announced his administration is reopening a review of automaker fuel economy standards.

Weaver said her meeting with Trump was shorter than expected -- about two minutes, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer -- but she welcomed the opportunity. The administration had reached out to the mayor’s office on Tuesday to set up the discussion.

“I told him I appreciate him not stopping the federal funds from coming to Flint,” Weaver said in remarks shared by her office, referencing $100 million in aid the city will likely qualify for under legislation approved late last year by Congress.

The Democratic mayor said she told Trump the city still needs more funding to replace underground service lines that leached lead into the municipal water supply, and she suggested the city could use additional help with public safety funding for police.

“He seemed sincere in being glad to have gotten the opportunity to meet me. It was more like an introduction meeting,” Weaver said. “So, we’re in contact and we’re trying to get another meeting set up. We’ll find out how serious he is then.”

Trump visited Flint during his general election battle with Democrat Hillary Clinton, who also visited the city and repeatedly highlighted its plight in her own campaign. Weaver endorsed Clinton in the election.

In his Sept. 14 campaign stop, which included a tour of Flint’s dormant water plant, Trump promised the crisis would “be fixed quickly and effectively and Flint will come back,” but he did not detail any specific plans.

Recent testing has shown continued improvement in Flint water quality, but officials continue to recommend residents use tap filters for their drinking water while the city continues to work to replace pipes that leached lead into the municipal water supply.

Former President Barack Obama signed a law that could pave the way for $100 million in federal funding to help Flint upgrade its aging infrastructure. A Flint spending plan formally submitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental quality has not yet been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA could face significant funding cuts under Trump, a move that critics fear will jeopardize future state grants to fight air and water pollution. A draft proposal from the federal Office of Management and Budget showed a tentative plan for cutting the agency’s funding about 25 percent, including a 97 percent reduction for the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.