Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5303, Water Resources Development Act of 2016; Providing for Consideration of Motions to Suspend the Rules; and Waiving a Requirement of Clause 6(a) of Rule XIII...

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 27, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, Mr. Hastings, so much for his kind words, for yielding, and for his unyielding support for the people of my home community. It means a lot to me.

I rise in opposition to the previous question so that I can bring up something that I hoped I was going to be able to bring up through the amendment process or could have been inserted in this bill in the first place, and that is the relief for the people of Flint that, as my friend said, passed the United States Senate 95-3. And yet at every turn, the Republican leadership in this body finds a reason, some kind of an excuse, or some kind of technicality to prevent us from providing help to a whole city that has been poisoned and continues to have water that is unsafe to drink.

This is a water resources bill. The Speaker said that, no, it shouldn't be in the continuing resolution, this help for Flint; it should be in WRDA. The majority leader, Mr. McCarthy, said this should come up in WRDA. So last night, I went to the Committee on Rules, offered the amendment to put the language in WRDA, and on a party line vote, of course, the answer was no, nothing for the people of Flint, a city that is being poisoned by its own water. The Federal Government has the opportunity to help. Nothing.

When the Speaker said that this is where the conversation should take place on Flint, I assumed that that meant a conversation would take place and we could debate the merit of this paid-for provision to help the people of Flint. But the conversation, I suppose, that the Speaker anticipated went something like this: No, nothing for Flint, end of conversation. That is shameful. What are we here for, for God's sake? Why do we come to this place if not to do the work of the American people?

We have waived the rules in this Congress--not just since I have been here, but in this 114th Congress--to make way for legislation that needs to come to the floor because it was someone's priority 249 times.

Twice in this rule we waived the rules of the House of Representatives in order to get legislation to the floor.
Let me ask a question. If there is ever a time when we ought to do everything we can, including waiving a point of order, it would be to take up relief for a city that is drinking poison, relief that the Senate has already passed 95-3. But what do the people of Flint get? Lipservice. Nothing. Excuses. It is a shame.

This is the Congress of the United States. Let me give you a civics lesson for those of you who may be listening. The city of Flint happens to be in the United States of America. We have an obligation to all Americans. So when Mr. Hastings is confused, I share that confusion.

What is it? Why is it that the majority will do backflips to bend the rules, to break the rules, to amend the rules, and to waive the rules to achieve whatever their particular goal might be? But, no, when it comes to the people of Flint, you are on your own.


Mr. KILDEE. It is fully paid for. I thank the gentleman for the question. Fully paid for.


Mr. KILDEE. So we have a fully paid-for provision. There is no excuse. It will not increase the deficit. So it does beg the question: Why? Or a better way to put it: Why not?

I have to admit, Mr. Speaker, I am coming to a conclusion that I don't want to come to, that the leadership in this House, when they think about Flint or when they look at Flint, sees something different.

They don't see American citizens. They don't see people in need. But there is something about this poor community, this poor majority minority community that exempts them from the kind of help that we have provided time and time again to people in crisis in this country.

I hate to come to the conclusion that there is something about these people that causes this Congress to decide they don't deserve that help. That is a shame.


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate and understand the gentleman's comment. My point is this: Prove me wrong. Prove me wrong. You have it in your power to take up this legislation. It is not me who is blocking this legislation. I don't want to come to this conclusion. It is very difficult to, time and time again, take this question to the floor of the House and wonder why Flint is exempt.

Sympathy does not get anywhere. I understand there is all sorts of sympathy for the people of Flint. Well wishes. But when it comes time to act, when it comes time to actually do something for this community, nothing.