I recognize that many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have just voted against the short funding resolution because it does not include critical funding for Flint. Unfortunately, I believe this a misguided strategy with very serious consequences.
I must be very clear that the $300 million Flint package that passed this body several weeks ago will become law by the end of the year. It is a mistake to take the country to the brink of shutdown over an issue when we already have bipartisan agreement on the solution.
When the national press opened the eyes of America to the lead water contamination crisis affecting Flint, Michigan, a city of roughly 100,000 people, I told my staff it was time to get to work to see what went wrong and what could be done. We are so close to making this a reality and I urge my colleagues not to create a stand-off on the CR when we are taking care of the people of Flint – and communities around the country—in our WRDA bill
I know Leader McConnell spoke with Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi this morning, and assured them he is “dead serious” about ensuring the Flint package becomes law once we return from break.
Let me remind you that on September 15, when the Senate passed WRDA 2016 with an overwhelming vote of 95 to 3, I pledged to not let politics, or any lame-duck session, jeopardize the emergency relief in WRDA 2016 and to get this signed into law by the end of this year.
I have been standing with my colleagues in Michigan from the beginning in support of our fiscally responsible solutions to help not only the Flint community, but also other communities facing drinking water emergencies and water infrastructure challenges, solutions that a Republican-majority Senate has supported strongly.
The Senate passed WRDA bill not only provides the critical support that Flint needs but it also will help to prevent future water and wastewater infrastructure crises across the nation. WRDA is the right vehicle, and I am committed to getting this bill to the president’s desk with Senator Boxer and my good friend Senator Stabenow by the end of year.
I know that many on the other side of the aisle are skeptical of our resolve, in particular because of the uncertainty about the WRDA bill moving through the House this week, without the Senate Flint compromise attached.
It is important to understand that, unlike the Senate, different committees in the House have jurisdiction over the Corps of Engineers and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The House T&I Committee has jurisdiction over the Army Corps of Engineers. However, it is the House Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over the Safe Drinking Water Act. The House WRDA bill only includes issues that are under the jurisdiction of the T&I Committee. That is why the House WRDA bill does not include Safe Drinking Water Act amendments, like the Flint package.
Once the House sends us their T&I version of the WRDA bill tomorrow, Senator Boxer and I will immediately attach the Senate Flint compromise as we conference with the House for a final bill. The Republican House leadership has already assured me that this the plan and so it is time for us to stop playing politics with the CR on this issue and focus our attention to making WRDA 2016 a reality.
I can assure you that Senator Boxer and are in lock step agreement to get this done. People doubted us on the 5 year Highway Bill we passed last year and we showed this body that when we work together on issues like this, our word is as good as a guarantee. Even during difficult political gamesmanship like what is happening on this Continuing Resolution, I urge my colleagues to trust in our unique relationship and our ability to ensure the Flint package is on the President’s desk very soon.