By Devin Henry - 02/17/16 04:28 PM EST
Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are raising questions about Michigan’s use of CDC money intended to monitor lead levels in young children in light of the water crisis in Flint.
In a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas Frieden, four Democrats asked why Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services — which received a CDC grant to track lead levels in children under 6 — didn’t respond more quickly to the water problems in Flint.
“We seek CDC’s assistance to better understand how the State of Michigan used its three-year funding from the CDC and why Michigan officials failed to detect and respond to rising lead blood levels in children after the city of Flint switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River,” wrote Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Gene GreenGene GreenHouse, Senate roll out chemical safety compromise Time runs short on House GOP bill tackling mental health, mass shootings House Dems give mixed reviews to Obama Medicare plan MORE (Texas), Diana DeGette (Colo.) and Paul Tonko (N.Y.).
The group also asks whether the agency needs more funding for its Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
The program provides grants to 29 states, the District of Columbia and five cities for lead poisoning prevention and oversight work. The program received $17 million in 2016, down nearly half from what lawmakers appropriated in 2011.
“We seek to understand whether our federal investments in lead poisoning prevention and public health surveillance are up to the task of addressing this public health challenge and whether additional resources are merited,” the letter reads.
Water quality around the U.S. has come under scrutiny since lead levels in Flint water surged after city officials switched the drinking water supply, causing health problems and outrage in the city and nationwide.
The crisis has lead to criticism of how federal and state environmental and health regulators failed Flint. Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Sanders aide: DNC needs a 'unifier' as chair Wasserman Schultz fights to keep her job DNC chair: I'm 'focused on doing my job' MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump aide: 'Hillary is the one who’s got a gender gap' WaPo editorial board: 'No excuse' for Clinton email practices Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE will hold a debate in the city shortly before the Michigan primary.