Democrats press GOP on Flint aid, Zika funding, Garland nomination
Washington — Democratic congressional leaders gave Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township the podium to make a plea for Flint aid on Thursday, but made only a short mention of it themselves at a press conference that covered issues ranging from Obama’s Supreme Court nominee to the Zika virus.
The Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, excoriated Senate Republicans for blocking a vote on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and other Democratic priorities such as federal aid for Flint and Zika relief.
“Two years later, Congress has not yet acted to help the people of my hometown,” said Kildee, a second-term Democrat who has pushed Congress and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on the city’s lead-contaminated water. “Even though the federal government did not create this crisis, the people who live in my hometown, the people of Flint ... they are citizens of the United States of America.”
Kildee noted that one of his first votes in Congress was to help residents of Northeast states after Hurricane Sandy shortly after his election in 2012.
“Congress needs to do its job and help the people of my hometown,” he said. “They have waited far too long.”
The Democratic lawmakers said Republicans House and Senate leaders should cancel an upcoming recess scheduled for next week in honor of Memorial Day to take up the Supreme Court nomination and the pending pieces of legislation.
“Republicans are leaving Washington without having completed any of the urgent business before Congress,” Pelosi said. “Republicans recklessly block action on public health crises facing our nations. They have recklessly chosen to obstruct the robust action needed to protect families from Zika, the new resources needed to confront the opioid addiction, the help needed for the led-poisoned children of Flint, also the fair hearing and prompt voted owed President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.”
Both the Senate and House have approved opioid addiction bills but still need to reconcile the differing versions.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, responded by blaming Democrats for playing political games this year that has delayed legislative work, such as blocking a defense bill containing benefits for members of the U.S. military.
“While the #Senate Dems are busy complaining about a delay they created, the @SenateGOP is #backtowork for Americans,” McConnell tweeted Thursday.
Reid added that the Senate has worked fewer days this year than any year since 1956.
“We’ve now been waiting 80 days since President Obama did his job for the Republican Congress to do their job,” he said.