Overnight Energy: Cruz among senators holding up Flint deal

CRUZ, OTHERS HOLDING UP FLINT DEAL: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE is among a group of senators who has put a hold on an aid deal for Flint, Mich., but lawmakers are confident that the fight won't disrupt work on the bill.

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' Free traders applaud Trump as China tariff threat recedes The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ MORE (D-N.Y.) told Bloomberg News Thursday that Cruz is holding up the bill. In a brief interview with The Hill, Schumer was more coy, saying only that a "presidential candidate, not to name names," was behind the hold.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who helped write the Flint deal, said he had heard it was Cruz but wasn't able to confirm it was the Texas senator.

ADVERTISEMENT
Cruz spokesman Phil Novack said, "We are simply reviewing the bill right now," and he's likely not alone. Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Chao names participants selected for drone pilot program MORE (R-N.D.) said, "There are a number of holds on both the energy and on Flint. We haven't gotten through them all. We haven't got an agreement yet, working on it."

Regardless, negotiators who hammered out the $250 million aid package for Flint said they expect to be able to resolve their differences over the package by early next week, when they hope to begin voting on both Flint funding and an underlying energy bill that was stalled earlier this month due to a dispute over the aid bill.

Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDefense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer House lawmakers to unveil water resources bill on Friday MORE (R-Okla.) said any concerns over the bill are "something we can resolve" and doesn't involve the substance of the deal.

"It won't change very much at all," he said.

Read more here.

Flint hearing with Snyder, McCarthy scheduled: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled its potentially blockbuster Flint hearing with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyPruitt granted extension to file financial disclosure form Pruitt's 24/7 security requested over fears of Trump policy backlash EPA documents detail threats against Pruitt MORE.

The pair will testify before the committee on March 17 at 9 a.m., the committee announced on Thursday.

The committee, led by Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates MORE (R-Utah) announced earlier this month that the two would testify on Flint, setting the stage for members to grill two leading players on their roles in precipitating and responding to the crisis in Flint, where corroded water pipes have caused increased lead levels in drinking water.

Three other officials will visit the committee two days before Snyder and McCarthy. On March 15, former EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman, the Snyder-appointed emergency manager for Flint, Darnell Earley, and former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling will appear before Chaffetz's panel.

Sanders stops in Flint: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Bernie Sanders announces Senate reelection bid MORE visited Flint on Thursday to speak with residents about their  problems with the drinking water there. Their concerns were myriad.

Sanders asked the audience what they believed the city needed. At one point, he pointed out that a General Motors factory had learned of the lead in Flint's water before the city's residents.

One woman in the audience called for a Department of Justice investigation into Snyder's ties to Nestle, which she alleged to be profiting from the bottled water demand, a concern echoed by other residents. Another woman listed off a number of brands of bottled water being distributed to residents and noted that they were all owned by Nestle.

One woman said she wanted government officials to be kept accountable and have "their feet held to the fire." Another audience member sought to call attention to the city's deep poverty, saying that if the city was more affluent, it would not be facing such crises.

"It seems to me in a general sense that this community is impacted by disastrous trade policies," Sanders said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE has looked to make Flint a major issue in the presidential race, even releasing a web video this week highlighting her proposals for the city.

Clinton and Sanders will debate in Flint on March 6.

Read more here.

FEDERAL RULES FOR GAS STORAGE? Multiple House lawmakers agreed Thursday that the agency regulating the nation's pipelines ought to crack down on underground natural gas storage facilities.

At a hearing on reauthorizing pipeline safety programs for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), lawmakers proposed mandating such rules as a way to prevent future leaks like the one recently plugged in southern California.

"We're looking at setting standards at the federal level, and then making sure that the other 35 or so states that have these types of underground facilities ... have some sort of a baseline," said Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), whose district is near the leak.

"Now, states can take it over ... they can take these limits and raise them. But there should be some sort of standards."

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) agreed and said the agency should also have the power to make emergency safety orders.

"When there's a problem like the one we know about in California, I think thoughtful regulators should have the ability to immediately implement special standards that are already accepted by the industry," he said.

Read more here.

AROUND THE WEB:

A group of environmentalists in Germany say they have found traces of a weed-killer in 14 of the country's most popular beers, Reuters reports.

A bill to restrict the dumping of coal ash in South Carolina has passed the Legislature and is on its way to the governor to be signed into law, the Greenville News reports.

A group in Maine is pushing lawmakers to expand solar power in the state, the Portland Press Herald reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories...

-Sanders voices outrage over Flint water crisis
-Feds: California methane leak largest in US history
-Cruz among senators holding up Flint deal
-Pipeline regulators pressed to act on gas storage leaks
-Dems push to fine auto emissions violators after VW scandal
-Oregon Republicans no-show to block work on state climate bill

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill