The White House on Monday challenged congressional Republicans to provide new funding for the Flint, Mich., water crisis, as well as recovery efforts following severe flooding in Louisiana.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the Obama administration’s response to Flint and Louisiana when asked whether funding for the crises will come up during budget meetings with Republicans.
He noted, for example, that 63,000 Louisiana families have received federal assistance and that there’s been $260 million in insurance payments there since last month’s flooding in and around Baton Rouge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last week asked federal officials for more than $2 billion to help further recovery efforts. Earnest said Congress would have to address that request.
“Theres a lot of moralizing about how the president should do his job,” he said during a press briefing Monday.
“Well he’s done it. The question now is, are Republicans in Congress going to do their job? ... Are they going to do their job for the people of Louisiana? I think we’re going to find out.”
Earnest said the White House “would support congressional action to offer additional assistance” to Flint, which is suffering from elevated levels of lead in its drinking water.
Lawmakers have long tried to cut a deal on aid for Flint. Senators agreed over the summer to include $220 million in funding for Flint and cities with other drinking water problems in a water infrastructure bill, legislation that is set to receive a vote this week.
“It’s clear that the problems in Flint are deeply entrenched and the administration would certainly be supportive of an effort in Congress to offer additional assistance,” he said. “We’ll just add it to the long list of things that Republicans in congress have failed to make progress in.”
President Obama and congressional leaders will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss funding the government after the fiscal year ends on Sept 30.