If you are poor and the wrong color, the GOP has no use for you. Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan.
UPDATE: Late Tuesday night, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi struck a deal to include $170 million in emergency funds for Flint in a separate water resources bill. The bill passed on Wednesday.
Although the Senate has approved $220 million to help Flint, Michigan, as well as other cities that are dealing with lead contamination of their water supplies, the spending proposal put forward by GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell excluded Flint. There is aid money for Louisiana flood victims, but the people of Flint and the 9,000 children under the age of 6 suffering from lead poisoning due to the reckless behavior of Michigan Republican leadership have been left out in the cold.
Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee (D), a white man who represents Flint, didn’t mince words after seeing his city had been left out of the spending bill.
“It sends a pretty strong message,” Kildee said. “What is it about Flint that distinguishes it from these other places that rightfully qualify for help? I support helping the people of Louisiana. I am all in. What I cannot accept is a bunch of excuses, a bunch of irrelevant excuses that again leave Flint behind. It is a poor community. It is a majority African American community. It is very difficult to believe that if the conditions in Flint had occurred in a much more affluent community….. I have no doubt in my mind that the response would have been different.”
McConnell defended the move for not including Flint in the spending bill to fund the government through December 9 with a typically GOP response, saying the flood funding was a “down payment” and not the full amount. He noted that the funds for Flint were included in a water bill passed with a huge majority in the Senate, and that the bill is expected to be voted on in the House. Only fly in the ointment is that the Senate bill and the House bill differ, and reconciling them will take time which leaves passage of the bill in question. Including Flint in the continuing resolution would have moved funds faster to people who have been waiting years for the government to aid them in fixing the GOP-made disaster that assaulted their city and their children.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) weighed in on the issue, supporting McConnell’s claim and said the flooding in Louisiana and the water crisis in Flint are two separate issues and said Flint may be able to be addressed (my emphasis) when the House deals with the water bill – whenever they get around to doing that. He also asserted that Flint was more of a local government issue, even though the House Oversight Committee hearings found the situation in Flint “a failure at every level of government.”
So there you have it. Once again, the GOP is planning to hold the government hostage by including some things that could be counted as victories for Democrats in the continuing resolution to keep our government running. But Flint is not one of those victories.
Rep. Johnson Conyers (D-Michigan) summed it up succinctly. “Flint’s citizens have suffered unacceptable damage and continue to suffer because Republicans are more interested in providing lip service than they are resources. With funding for Flint omitted from the continuing resolution, it’s clear: minority and low-income communities are not even the slightest priority for our Republican-led Congress.”
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) is confident that Senate Democrats will stand with her and block the bill. “We should not be sending messages that we only care about some communities and not others. The people of Flint one more time are being told to wait and that somehow lead poisoning and not having safe water for two years is not an equal emergency to a flood. And, it is.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) will not support the bill and said, “I had an opportunity to talk with the president in the Oval Office about this proposal, and after that conversation it’s not at all clear to me that he is prepared to sign this bill because he believes that Congress has got some work to do.”
Looks like there’s an ugly battle looming. Let’s hope when it’s over, Flint will be in the winning column.