Senator lifts hold on Flint aid bill

Senator lifts hold on Flint aid bill

Sen. David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator Former senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry MORE (R-La.) has removed his hold on a bill to help Flint, Mich., and other communities with drinking water contamination.

A Vitter aide said Tuesday that the hold was removed because his issue with the related energy legislation was resolved.

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The action removes one major hurdle in the bipartisan push to pass a $250 million package to give infrastructure and assistance to Flint and other areas with similar problems. Dangerous levels of lead began leaching into the city's water supply after the state's governor, Rick Snyder, switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

But another big hurdle still remains: Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeThe Memo: Trump tries to bend Congress to his will Tensions linger between Trump and GOP lawmakers Trump plays hardball on ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Utah) still has a hold on the bill, preventing it from moving forward by unanimous consent. Lee is the only remaining senator of a group of Republicans that had holds on the legislation, including Vitter and Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzDems see huge field emerging to take on Trump McCain diagnosis looms over GOP healthcare talks Lawmakers send Sen. McCain well wishes after cancer diagnosis MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowWarren on Kid Rock Senate run: 'We all thought Trump was joking,' too Dems abuse yet another Senate tradition to block Trump's agenda Kid Rock hints at Senate run announcement MORE (D-Mich.) was optimistic that a resolution on Lee’s objection is within reach.

“We’ve possibly found a path forward,” she told reporters Tuesday. “We’ll know by the end of the day.”

Vitter objected to the energy bill, which the Senate is moving along with the Flint bill, because it didn’t have strong enough language to encourage fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Lee objects to the Flint bill, saying it’s not the federal government’s place to help cities with drinking water problems if the states can handle it themselves.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said that he’s scheduled a meeting with Lee to try to resolve the problem and get him to lift his hold.

“I will be speaking to him this afternoon,” Peters said.

Peters also strongly disagreed with Lee’s opinion of bill.

“It’s outrageous to think we're grandstanding,” Peters said. “I would just encourage Sen. Lee to go to Flint and talk directly to the people who are living on bottled water.”

— Jordain Carney contributed to this story.