Clinton calls on Obama officials to ‘step up’ in Flint

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called Tuesday on the Obama administration to “step up” with assistance for Flint and its residents exposed to contaminated drinking water.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should conduct an “expedited review” of the city’s water infrastructure, Clinton said in a statement, and the federal government should step act as a partner to assist with necessary repairs. Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he is drafting a request for federal aid.

Clinton, who served as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, also urged the Democratic administration to immediately set up a “health monitoring and surveillance system” to test residents for lead poisoning. The state already is offering testing for lead in children.

“Children who have been exposed to lead need to be immediately treated and monitored,” she said. “And if there are long-term health impacts, those children and their families should be compensated.”

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the Obama administration is “very concerned” about Flint’s water woes. “We’re watching it very closely,” McDonough said, “but nobody has asked us anything yet.”

Snyder, who has faced criticism for his initial response to the Flint crisis, declared a state of emergency last week to facilitate the distribution of water, filters and tests for residents.

The governor signed an executive order on Monday creating a Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee to focus on long-term solutions to the crisis. Snyder said Tuesday there has been “no delay” on in preparing the request for federal assistance.

“This is the normal process,” Snyder told reporters before touring the Detroit auto show. “Again, when we had floods here in Detroit, it took 30 days to go through that process.”

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has said replacing Flint’s aging network of public and private water pipelines could cost as much as $1.5 billion, though no final assessment has been made.

The state should fully finance all water purchases from Detroit “until safe drinking water is fully restored in Flint,” Clinton said Tuesday.

Clinton, one of four Democrats on Michigan’s March 8 primary ballot, is to be in Detroit Tuesday for a private fundraiser at the Renaissance Center Marriott hotel. She was not expected to make any public appearances in the state.

Detroit News Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.