Dems demand Flint funding promise 'in writing' from GOP

Dems demand Flint funding promise 'in writing' from GOP
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Senate Democrats say they plan to block a governing spending bill Tuesday because they don’t trust Republicans to keep their promise to separately approve funding for the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis.  

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Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.), who is on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said at a press conference about two hours before the vote that Democrats are demanding a commitment to Flint aid in writing.

“We need more than just vague promises,” Boxer told reporters. “They can commit to us in writing that they can absolutely agree to our provisions. We don’t have any of that.”  

Democrats have opposed the GOP’s bill to keep the government open through Dec. 9 because it ignores the lead-contaminated water system in Flint  but includes $500 million to help relief efforts in Louisiana after this summer's floods.

GOP leaders in both chambers have said Flint funding should be part of a separate bill called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is going through the House this week.

While the Senate’s version of that bill includes money for Flint, the House’s version does not, and any agreement merging the two would likely come after the November elections.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA cuts payments promised to researchers as agency uproots to Kansas City USDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says MORE (D-Mich.) left open the possibility that Democrats could support a funding bill, or continuing resolution, that doesn’t include Flint aid as long as they have assurances that money would come eventually.

When asked whether there are solutions other than putting it in the government spending bill, Stabenow said: “Yes, but I’m not going to negotiate that in public."

House Democrats who joined the press conference took a harder line on the Flint funding, threatening to shut down the government and blame the GOP over the issue.

“If the money is not provided before we leave this week, we’re not leaving,” said Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), whose Flint amendment to the House’s water bill was shut down Monday, said that commitment “needs to come in the form of a bill on the president’s desk.”

“The only thing we can trust is a commitment to put this language in the continuing resolution and get this to the president’s desk,” Kildee said.

“How can we trust the Republicans when they say they’ll care of Flint in the WRDA bill?”