Week ahead: Flint fight resumes

The House and Senate are both in town after the lower chamber returns from its two-week recess. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to jump back into the congressional fight over the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

Two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees -- those focusing on the environment and health -- plan to hold a joint hearing Wednesday on the fallout from the lead contamination of the city's water supply.

Members are scheduled to "look to the future as they assess the ongoing drinking water crisis ... seek a better understanding of drinking water infrastructure issues, and weigh the short-and long-term public health implications," the committee said in a statement.

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Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are slated to testify.

The hearing is the latest House effort to probe Flint's water issues and the first time the Energy and Commerce Committee has considered the issue. Both Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) have called for a hearing into the matter.

Before the House recess, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit White House puts together climate finance strategy MORE faced aggressive questioning from the House Oversight Committee on their roles in the crisis.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D), who represents Flint in Congress, had urged lawmakers to call off the recess and stay to work on an aid package for the city and other communities with water problems.

House appropriators are scheduled to also unveil their spending targets for the EPA, with the energy and water appropriations subcommittee holding a hearing Wednesday.

Last year's bill aimed to cut EPA funding by 9 percent and block Obama administration climate rules. Republicans achieved neither goal in the omnibus spending package reached in December, which kept EPA funding flat in 2016 and left out policy riders. 

Elsewhere in the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider legislation relating to the EPA's new rules on surface-level ozone. The bill, from Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), one of the biggest critics of the rule, gives states the chance to move more slowly to implement the standards announced last fall. 

In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee plans to hold two hearings on environmental rules: the first, a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, looks at "American small businesses' perspectives" on EPA regulations. On Wednesday, the whole committee looks at how the rules affect access to energy.

 

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