Top Senate Dem: Dems won’t vote for funding bill over Flint

Top Senate Dem: Dems won’t vote for funding bill over Flint
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Senate Democrats will not vote for the short-term government funding bill the GOP has proposed because it has no funding for the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Mich., a top senator said.

Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, cited the lack of Flint aid as the main reason her caucus opposes the continuing resolution that Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale McConnell defends Trump amid backlash: 'He gets picked at every day' MORE (R-Ky.) unveiled Thursday afternoon.

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“We Democrats cannot vote ... for that substitute and urge others to vote against it,” she said on the floor shortly before McConnell released the proposal publicly.

“We believe that the people of Flint, Mich. ... who have been waiting for more than one year, should be included in this continuing resolution.”

She noted that the Senate’s version of the Water Resources Development Act, passed last week, has a $220 million aid package for Flint and other cities with drinking-water crises.

But Flint, which has known about its lead-tainted water for nearly a year, needs the help now, Mikulski said. 

“The people of Flint need help now. They actually needed help nine months ago,” she said.

“It's paid for. We have a framework for proceeding. Let's just do it.”

If all Senate Democrats vote against the bill, it would not reach the 60-vote supermajority needed to pass.

Democrats object to other provisions in the proposed short-term funding bill, including a policy provision regarding Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, but Mikulski devoted most of her speech on the Senate floor to Flint.

House Democrats are also fighting for Flint aid. 

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who represents Flint, gave an impassioned speech on the House floor in his attempt to get an aid package for Flint inserted into a Republican bill to prevent payments to Iran from the federal government.

He questioned why the GOP would not support the aid, noting that it is paid for, and Congress has a history of providing aid for major emergencies.

“The argument has to be that the people of Flint simply don’t deserve to have their federal government act at a moment of greatest need,” he said. “I know, from the conversations that I’ve had with members on both sides of the aisle, that that can’t be the case. That that cannot be.”

Kildee repeatedly yelled “shame” at Republicans and accused them of not caring sufficiently about the city’s problems.

“I hear nothing, nothing, from the leadership of this House that gives any indication that the people of Flint matter at all. Shame. Shame,” he said. “We ought to act and we ought to do it now. Not maybe three months from now, Not, ‘Oh, Flint, maybe we’ll get you in the next bill. Maybe the next piece of legislation.’ ”

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) proposed a motion to recommit, which would send the Iran bill back to committee in order to consider Flint aid. Such motions almost never succeed.

“The children and families of Flint are facing lifelong damage as a result of lead exposure,” Hastings said. “It is long past time that this Congress acted.”