After Flint, Dems question state's use of CDC funds

After Flint, Dems question state's use of CDC funds
© Getty Images

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 GreenWorking together on children’s healthcare Congress has best opportunity in years to reform fisheries management in federal waters Lobbying World 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 SandersSanders keeping door open on 2020 Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump Jr. adds to legal team ahead of Senate meeting Trump: Democrats, Russians laughing at 'phony Russian Witch Hunt' Scaramucci makes Sunday shows debut with vow to stop WH leaks MORE will hold a debate in the city shortly before the Michigan primary.