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Week ahead: Key Flint figures come to Congress

In a pair of hearings at the House Oversight Committee, top officials involved in the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis are slated to discuss the causes and aftermath of the lead contamination.

Following a hearing last month that only featured some secondary figures to the crisis, the panel is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Thursday to hear from major players in the crisis.

The Thursday event will be the bigger of the two, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Obama EPA chief: Trump regulation rollbacks won't hold up legally MORE set to testify.

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Lawmakers hope the hearing could bring Congress and the public closer to understanding the catastrophe that is playing a role in the presidential race, grabbing national attention and causing widespread finger-pointing.

Snyder was responsible for the emergency manager who oversaw Flint's April 2014 cost-cutting decision to switch water sources. That move resulted in lead and other pollutants leaching into the city's water supply.

McCarthy's agency is the main federal force responsible for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act. Agency officials knew in early 2015 that Flint had elevated lead levels but didn't take action beyond pushing Michigan and the city to act.

The Tuesday session is scheduled to feature Susan Hedman, who was the EPA's regional manager for the area that includes Flint before resigning in January due to the crisis; former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley; former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; and Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards, who did much of the early work researching Flint's water quality after the switch.

Congress is also in the midst of budget season, and the House Appropriations Committee has lined up more hearings.

The Interior and EPA subcommittee has a hearing Tuesday on the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2017 funding request and a Thursday meeting on the National Park Service's request.

The energy and water subcommittee is scheduled to meet Wednesday on the Energy Department's environmental management programs.

The House Science Committee is planning a Tuesday hearing on a proposed EPA rule that Republicans say would prevent amateur racecar drivers from modifying their vehicles' engines.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate is negotiating to resolve holds that are preventing an energy package and Flint aid bill from moving forward.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school MORE (D-Fla.) has a hold to protest a Republican amendment to increase states' shares of offshore drilling revenue, and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (R-Utah) still has budgetary objections to the Flint bill.

Senators have said they are very close to resolving the holds, so the chamber could resume formal consideration of the legislation. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is planning a Tuesday hearing on President Obama's memorandum from last year on mitigating environmental harm and a Thursday hearing on two dozen bills related to national parks.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday on possible legislation to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act.

Off Capitol Hill, the American Council on Renewable Energy is slated to hold its annual policy forum Thursday.

Major speakers will include EPA air and radiation chief Janet McCabe, Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Regulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections MORE (D-R.I.), and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (R-Iowa), along with EPA senior counsel Joe Goffman and numerous private sector and interest group representatives.

 

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