FLINT--Congressman Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, along with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Debbie Dingell (MI-12), announced they successfully led 65 of their colleagues in securing a whopping $30 billion to fund lead service line replacement, $700 million to remove lead from school water, and $500 million in additional funding for the Department of Health and Human Services' Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). The funding win comes as the result of a lobbying effort the four lawmakers led, which included sending a letter to House leadership urging they use the budget reconciliation process to address clean water shortfalls across the country.
"The water crisis in Flint brought the need for lead service line replacement to the nation's attention. But the problem is not limited to Flint--there are lead service lines in all 50 states, posing significant health risks, especially to children," the lawmakers wrote. "Partial lead service line replacements are dangerous and must not receive funding, and to help ensure full-service line replacement, water systems must offer to replace any privately owned portion of the lead service line at no cost to the owner and complete the job of eliminating their lead pipes within 10 years."
Reps. Schakowsky, Holmes Norton, Ruppersberger, Newman, Payne, Garcia (IL), Nadler, Higgins, Jackson Lee, B. Lee, Watson Coleman, Ocasio-Cortez, Dean, Bush, Johnson (GA), Evans, Barragan, Davis (IL), Williams (GA), Trahan, Velazquez, Cicilline, Raskin, Correa, Ryan, Jones (NY), Meng, Lawrence, Maloney, Stevens, Neguse, Bowman, Scanlon, McEachin, Pressley, Clarke, McGovern, Torres (NY), Carter (LA), Bass, Grijalva, Hayes, Khanna, Jacobs, Welch, DeGette, Quigley, Garcia (TX), Levin (MI), Roybal-Allard, Cohen, Blunt Rochester, Pocan, Wilson (FL), Cleaver, Takano, Vargas, Boyle, Espaillat, Rush, Davids, Lynch, Cardenas, Blumenauer, and Connolly all co-signed the letter.
"What happened to my hometown of Flint is not an anomaly--it is a warning to other communities across America. We must get serious about investing in our water infrastructure to remove every lead pipe to ensure everyone has access to clean, affordable drinking water," said Congressman Kildee. "That's why I fought for these investments with my colleagues to help replace lead service lines, protect our children from lead in school drinking water and give relief to working families struggling with their water bills. It's long past time for America to addresses the drinking water crisis we're facing."
"For too long, countless Americans have been forced to suffer the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, especially low-income communities and communities of color," said Congresswoman Tlaib. "These investments my colleagues and I fought to secure will help turn the tide in every water warriors fight to ensure every home and school has safe, clean, and affordable water. That's what funding the people's infrastructure should be about. I'm grateful to have the partnerships with my colleagues and advocacy groups to finally take a huge step toward achieving that."
"Every person in America should have safe water to drink, clean air to breathe, and access to public lands -- regardless of their ZIP code, income, race, or anything else," said Congresswoman Jayapal. "By securing billions of dollars in funding to replace service lines, remove lead from schools, and better fund the Department of Health and Human Services' Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, we are taking an important step towards making this a reality. I am proud to be part of this urgent effort as we work to deliver for people across this country."
"This nation is facing a serious drinking water crisis -- and it's been impacting Michiganders for years between Flint, Dearborn, and now Benton Harbor. We need strong investments in replacing contaminated lead service lines, eliminating lead in our schools to protect children, and ensuring low-income communities can afford and have access to clean water," said Congresswoman Dingell. "As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I have led this fight for clean water in our communities, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in this critical moment to invest further to protect public health and create more jobs."
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce completed a markup of the budget reconciliation bill, also known as the Build Back Better Act, yesterday. Once all of the committees of jurisdiction have done the same, the House Budget Committee and House Rules Committee will consider the bill before it heads to the House floor for a full vote.