Lawmakers agreed on a bipartisan energy bill
It doesn't include funding for Flint, Michigan, due to objections by one senator
Bipartisan Senate leaders reached an agreement Wednesday on a long-stalled energy modernization bill that some had hoped would include money to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
But because the Flint provision is still the subject of a hold by Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee – who objects to the way it is funded – the energy bill will now move on without it.
The setback is significant, because even if Lee’s concerns are resolved eventually, it will likely be time-consuming and complicated to find a new legislative vehicle to pass the money for Flint.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow quickly issued a statement knocking Lee for holding up the funds, which she argues are desperately needed.
“It’s totally unacceptable that Sen. Lee continues to block a vote on our fully paid for, bipartisan agreement to help Flint and other communities across the nation who have serious lead and water problems,” the Democrat said. “This is about something as basic as making sure families have clean water to drink and children with lead poisoning get the help they need.”
“We will not give up until this gets done using whatever legislative vehicle it takes,” she added.
The Flint measure would provide $250 million for repairs to its lead-leaching water lines as well as deal with the health effects on the city’s residents. The money would also be available to other communities with drinking water problems.
A spokesman for Lee declined to comment on the developments.
The energy bill had been held up over a dispute between Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy over a coastal drilling amendment.
“We had yet another small victory today in our ongoing fight to keep oil rigs away from Florida’s coast,” Nelson said in a statement.