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Flint stands in the way of Congress coming to an agreement over federal funding

Sep 23, 2016

Congress has to ensure the federal government is funded past September 30 by its October recess. But Flint's ongoing water crisis is standing in the way of Republicans and Democrats coming to an agreement. 

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that Democrats in Congress want money to help Flint, Michigan to be included in a government aid bill for Louisiana and other states dealing with flood relief. 

While state and local leaders in Flint have been urging Congress to act on the water crisis since the news of lead contaminated water broke last year, stopping the spread of Zika virus and Louisiana's flood victims are bigger priorities for Republicans in Congress.

Listen to an excerpt from Chang's report:

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, says the spending bill shouldn't exclude Flint. 

"They want to put Louisiana in, and we said you can't put Louisiana in unless you put Flint in," Schumer says.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, disagrees. He says the water crisis in Flint should not be seen as equal to the Louisiana flooding.

"We shouldn't hold folks ... hostage because of other people's grief."

"We shouldn't hold folks, who right now, still have mud in their house and  are thinking of throwing the keys to their house on the table of their banker because they cannot afford their mortgage, hostage because of other people's grief," says Sen. Cassidy.

Michigan Radio asked Flint mayor Karen Weaver and Congressman Dan Kildee, D-MI, about Sen. Cassidy's remarks. Both Weaver and Kildee were at an event with Chelsea Clinton today in Monroe.

Kildee, who is from Flint, considers Cassidy's comments hypocritical. 

"Two years. I mean, for God's sake, that's a moral outrage."

"I find it ironic that one would argue that a community right now, one that he represents, that's still underwater after a storm that took place a couple of weeks ago, would say that their need is more immediate when the people of Flint haven't been able to drink their water for two years," Kildee says 

"The notion that two years of crisis somehow diminishes the urgency is ridiculous," he adds. "Two years. I mean, for God's sake, that's a moral outrage." 

Dan Kildee (left) and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (right)
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mayor Weaver echoes the sentiments of Kildee, saying Flint's crisis is frustrating, to say the least.

"We are angered. We are outraged, because it doesn't make any sense," Weaver says. "I think people need to pay close attention to what is or isn't happening for the city of Flint because as Chelsea [Clinton] said, Flint is a metaphor for cities across not only the state, but across the country." 

Listen to more of the remarks from Kildee and Weaver below.