Dan Kildee

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation see today’s criminal charges as just a step in the right direction.

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, welcomed the filing of criminal charges against two state regulators and a Flint city employee in the Flint water crisis.

“But it would be incomplete if that justice did not also include those who did this to Flint … meaning the state government,” says Kildee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s drinking water crisis is getting more attention from Washington.

Two senior members of Congress are due in Flint Monday.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings are the latest members of Congress to visit Flint in recent weeks.   

They will be joined by Michigan representatives Dan Kildee, D-Flint; Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; and Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

They will meet with Flint business leaders and get a briefing from federal officials on what’s being done to address Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is getting tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to tear down blighted buildings.

Last year, Congress approved spending $2 billion to fund blight elimination programs nationwide. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury today says Michigan is eligible for more than $300 million from the Hardest Hit fund. Nearly $75 million is available immediately.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been among those fighting for the blight money.

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

The Flint water crisis has come to Capitol Hill as Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., was one of the first to testify today before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing seeks to find out how the city’s drinking water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

Shortly after his testimony, Rep. Kildee spoke to Cynthia Canty on Stateside, and said he hopes the facts of the situation are brought to light.

Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After being held for more than four years in an Iranian prison, Amir Hekmati, the former U.S. Marine from Flint, is home. The Flint man was part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Hekmati was arrested in Iran in 2011 while he was visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying.  At one time, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was eventually changed to 10 years. Hekmati and a handful of other Americans were exchanged for seven Iranians held in the U.S. The Iranians were charged with violating a trade embargo. 

We updated this post as he traveled home. You can scroll below and read up to follow the events.

Congressman Kildee and Amir Hekmati.
Rep. Dan Kildee's office.

A nearly four-and-a-half year nightmare has ended for the Hekmati family of Flint.

Marine veteran Amir Hekmati was reunited today with his sisters and brother-in-law at the U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

That's where he and two other Americans were taken after being released from an Iranian prison over the weekend.

Hekmati had been a prisoner of Iran since August of 2011.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, was there with the Hekmati family. He has been working for Hekmati's release ever since he was elected to Congress in 2013.

A 2001 USMC portrait of Amir Mirza Hekmati.
USMC

(Editor's note: See this post: Follow Amir Hekmati's journey home from an Iranian prison to Michigan for updates as Hekmati makes his way home.)

The AP reports the Swiss plane carrying Amir Hekmati and other Americans from Iran has landed in Geneva, Switzerland.

Amir Hekmati is coming home.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met privately with Flint and Genesee County leaders today, hours after asking the Obama administration for help in dealing with the city’s water crisis.

“We’re finally getting the attention that we need and deserve,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in a written statement. “For so long, our voices have gone unheard. This man-made water disaster has been devastating and frustrating for the residents of Flint. We can’t fix what’s happened to the people of Flint. But, we can get them the things they deserve as a result of it.”

Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, has been fighting for the release of Amir Hekmati and other Americans held prisoner by the Iranian government since 2013
Steve Carmody

At last year’s State of the Union address, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat was unoccupied. It was left empty for Marine veteran Amir Hekmati of Flint, who has been held in an Iranian prison since August 29, 2011.

At tonight’s State of the Union speech, Kildee will once again use that guest seat to focus attention on Hekmati and the other Americans imprisoned in Iran. This time, Hekmati’s sister Sarah will fill the seat.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The sister of a Michigan man held in an Iranian prison for four years will be a guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Last year, Flint Congressman Dan Kildee’s guest seat at the annual speech by the president was left empty as a protest against the continued imprisonment of Amir Hekmati. 

This year, his sister Sarah will fill the seat at the State of the Union. 

Hekmati was arrested on spying charges during a trip to Tehran to visit relatives four years ago.    He denies the charges.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan may soon apply for tens of millions of dollars in federal funding to tear down blighted homes.

Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters met with Congressman Dan Kildee in Flint today to discuss the transfer of $2 billion into the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Peters says the evidence that this program works is “overwhelming”.

“Whenever you knock down blighted homes in a neighborhood, those property values stabilize. Those properties go up in value.  People move back into the neighborhood,” says Peters.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A meeting this week may help produce an update into a possible federal probe of Flint’s water problems.

Congressman Dan Kildee says he plans to meet this week with Regional EPA director Susan Hedman to discuss the status of an investigation into Flint’s drinking water problems.

Kildee says the investigation has to look beyond just assessing blame.

The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Michigan’s two United States Senators have sent a letter to Canada’s new prime minister to kill plans for a nuclear waste dump along Lake Huron.

The plans call for nuclear waste storage facility less than a mile from the shore of Lake Huron.

The former Conservative prime minister’s government was supportive of the plan. But the Conservatives lost a recent election to the Liberal Party. 

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a full review of the actions taken to address drinking water quality issues in Flint. It is expected to be completed by the end of this week, with results released next week.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman said in a Nov. 3 letter to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, that she was asked by the head of the federal agency to carry out the review.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee says he met with top federal officials yesterday to discuss Flint’s water problems.

Kildee told a town hall conference call last night about the meetings with officials from the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents concerned about the safety of their drinking water will have an opportunity this evening to get answers to their questions.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee is hosting a telephone town hall tonight starting at 7. Here’s a link to participate.

Kildee will be joined by researchers who discovered rising lead levels in the tap water in some Flint homes and in the blood of many Flint children.

Rep. Dan Kildee is part of a bipartisan group that is pushing to extend the Export-Import Bank's charter
Steve Carmody

This week, a bipartisan group of House members is  joining forces in an attempt to revive the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im Bank, as it’s known, is a federal agency that finances exports. It’s been around for 80 years, but stopped doing business July 1, after House leaders let its charter lapse.

Among the lawmakers trying to get the bank up and running again is Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

US Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a thorough investigation into what led to Flint's unsafe drinking water.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Kildee seeks answers to questions about the adequacy of the EPA's oversight of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  

Rep. Dan Kildee is part of a bipartisan group that is pushing to extend the Export-Import Bank's charter
Steve Carmody

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Republicans opposed to the Iran nuclear deal are taking that old adage to heart.

Twice now Senate Republicans have tried to pass a resolution rejecting the deal, and twice they’ve failed, blocked by Senate Democrats who support President Obama’s key foreign policy initiative.

Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they’ll try again today.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan congressman is proposing legislation to help people struggling with student loan debt.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee’s package of bills includes a proposal to make it easier for people filing for bankruptcy to include their student loan debt.

“Only under rare circumstances can student debt be discharged in a bankruptcy. So ... it creates a disincentives for people to try to go to college,” says Kildee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan businesses are taking part in a new push to resurrect a federal agency that helped American companies do business overseas.

The Export Import Bank of the United States was created under President Franklin Roosevelt. It has been the official export credit agency of the U.S. government. Its purpose is to provide financing and insuring foreign purchases of U.S. goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept the credit risk. 

Congress will have 60 days to look over the proposed Iran deal
White House

It took years of negotiation and diplomacy to bring about today's historic deal between Iran and world powers. Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

Now, the White House has to sell this deal to Congress and it could wind up being one of the biggest political fights of the Obama presidency. Congress has 60 days to dissect the terms of the agreement.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will consider a resolution Tuesday that calls on the Iranian government to release a Flint man from prison.

There is also a similar resolution making its way through Congress.

Amir Hekmati was arrested on spying charges while visiting relatives in Tehran. The retired U.S. marine denies the charges

A certain fact in politics: it is never too soon to start thinking about elections; particularly if you want to win them.

2016, 2018, 2020…

Michigan’s congressional delegation is divided as a major new trade deal tops the agenda this week.

The “Trans Pacific Partnership” would cover U-S imports and exports from a dozen nations.

Amir Hekmati.
Released by the family

A Michigan Congressman took to the U.S House floor today to ask Congress not to forget Flint native Amir Hekmati and other Americans imprisoned in Iran.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, made his comments alongside a large photo of Hekmati and a tally of days he's sat in prison - 1,324. 

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, is urging his colleagues in U.S. House to pass a resolution calling on the Canadian government and the Obama administration to halt the creation of a nuclear storage waste site. The site would be built about a mile from Lake Huron.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke to Rep. Kildee about what the proposed site could mean for Michigan and the possible impact of his resolution.

Here's their conversation:


Hekmati family

A Michigan congressman says Iran should release a Flint man from prison or possibly face problems getting its nuclear deal with the U.S. approved.

Iran recently reached a framework for a deal on its nuclear program with the Obama administration.  The deal is far from complete.  There are many details still to be worked out regarding inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities and the lifting of economic sanctions.

President Obama addresses Congress for his 2015 State of the Union address.
White House

For political junkies, Tuesday night was a double feature. First Gov. Snyder’s State of the State address followed by President Obama’s State of the Union address.

We got some reaction from Michigan's members of Congress.

First up, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee  – listen below.

Next, we spoke with Republican Congressman Mike Bishop – listen below.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”

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