Michigan governor won’t attend Dems’ hearing on Flint

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is turning down a request from House Democrats that he testify about his role in Flint, Mich.’s drinking water crisis.

Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said Monday that the governor won’t attend on Wednesday because he’s due to present his annual budget proposal that day in Michigan.

The hearing is being called by the Democrats' partisan Steering Committee, which does not have subpoena power. It will be the second by lawmakers on Flint's lead contamination, and the second at which Snyder will not testify. 

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Rep. Dan Kildee (D), who represents and lives in Flint, called Snyder’s refusal “deeply disappointing.”

“His administration's policies led to this man-made crisis, and he needs to answer questions so that the whole truth can be found,” said Kildee, who House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed to the Steering Committee last week.

“Flint families deserve answers and immediate solutions from the state about what is being done to make things right for the people of Flint.”

Snyder had authority over the emergency manager responsible for Flint’s 2014 switch in drinking water sources, which led to pipe corrosion and lead leaching into city water.

Later, Snyder's staff and the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) repeatedly downplayed residents’ concerns about the water and pushed back at efforts by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use corrosion controls that would have prevented the lead contamination.

“Seeing how it was your administration’s decisions that led to this public health crisis, including Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law, we believe it is important to hear testimony from you on this matter,” Democrats on the caucus’s Steering and Policy Committee wrote last week in a letter to Snyder.

“The ongoing Flint water crisis is a terrible tragedy,” they added. “As the governor of the state of Michigan, the families of Flint and all Americans deserve to hear testimony directly from you on how this man-made crisis happened, and what is being done at the state level to make it right.”

Keith Creagh, a Snyder appointee and head of the state’s DEQ, apologized to residents during a House Oversight Committee hearing last week but also tried to shift blame to local Flint officials for the poisoning. Snyder and state employees have also sought to shift blame to the EPA, which knew about the lead problem early last year but did not tell the public.

The Democrats’ hearing later this week will feature Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D), pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and other experts and stakeholders. No one will appear on behalf of Snyder or the state.

Updated at 1:27 p.m.