Senator lifts hold on Flint aid bill

Senator lifts hold on Flint aid bill

Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFormer GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World Mercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others 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 LeeWhat are 'religious liberty' bills really about? Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013 The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 CruzWhat are 'religious liberty' bills really about? Fiorina calls for special prosecutor for Russia probe Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013 MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowMembers help package meals at Kraft Heinz charity event in DC Senate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight The Hill’s Whip List: 32 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee 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.