Dan Gilmore / March 15, 2016

Republican Lawmakers Respond to Flint Water Crisis

Democrats tried to turn it into a political issue.

While Hillary Clinton dumps money into Flint, Michigan, to get votes and Democrats on Capitol Hill skewer Republicans for their seeming disregard for the crisis, the Republican-controlled Congress is getting things done. This week, Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, visited the city where the water runs tainted with lead ahead of a congressional hearing designed to understand the causes of the crisis. “What’s sickening about this is it was totally avoidable,” Chaffetz said during his opening statement for the first of two hearings. He continued, “what happened in Flint can never happen again. It’s almost unbelievable how many bad decisions were made.”

For Chaffetz and other Republicans, the blame for the poisoned water lies, at least partially, with the EPA. The chairman quoted an internal EPA memo that one enlightened bureaucrat wrote — “I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for,” implying the agency knew of the lead levels and decided to do nothing.

To solve the problem, Democrats wanted to dump $600 million upon the city, but as the Wall Street Journal praises, Republican lawmakers negotiated a better plan. If passed, the plan would cut subsidies going to car companies to further develop green cars and divert the funds to subsidize loans for municipalities that need to build up their infrastructure. Makes sense: Flint isn’t the only city in the nation that pipes water of poor quality to its residents. The Democrats tried to make this a partisan issue, to win votes ahead of the general election, but conservative lawmakers showed that they also have solutions, and they might be better at holding the EPA accountable.

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