Nevada Senator Harry Reid released a statement after Senate Republicans forced a vote on a proposal that would have removed a funding source for water improvements to help the people of Flint, Michigan and others throughout the nation. The proposal, the Coats amendment, was defeated, 48-49.
The Department of Energy has a funding pool that Democrats say could be used to fix Flint's water supply. The Coats amendment would have returned that money rather than spend it. Once again, Republicans are choosing to make a phony display of government austerity over the needs of poisoned citizens. It didn't work this time, but not for lack of trying.
“Three of the four Republican cosponsors of legislation to help the people of Flint voted to eliminate the funding source today. It is a disturbing trend that Senate Republicans are regularly unable to fulfill their commitments. The Senate cannot function if senators do not keep their word.
“Republicans have proven once again that they are willing to turn their backs on the people of Flint. Every time the Senate comes close to a bipartisan compromise to help children suffering from lead poisoning, Republicans find an excuse to back away. Today, Republicans voted to remove a funding source for legislation to tackle Flint’s water crisis without offering a single dime to clean their poisoned water. More than 100,000 people – including 9,000 children under the age of six – have been poisoned in the city of Flint, and it is unconscionable that Republicans would attempt to deny them the support they desperately need.
“Sadly, Republicans are happy to attack clean energy programs to please the Koch brothers, but they remain unwilling to lift a finger to help the people of Flint. I call on Republicans to end this unwarranted obstruction and protect the people of Flint and millions throughout the nation.”
One Democrat, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, voted with the Republicans, and she should answer for that vote. What the hell, Claire?
The Detroit Free Press has more:
[Michigan Democrats] Stabenow, Peters and several other U.S. senators — including Republicans and Democrats — more than a month ago worked out a deal to provide at least $100 million in grants or loans to Flint, where high levels of lead have been detected in the water supply. The plan would also free up millions more for low-interest financing for water projects across the U.S. and for public health services related to lead poisoning.
That bipartisan proposal has still not passed the Senate — U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has put a hold on the bill, complaining that it gives the federal government too much authority over local water projects. But if Coats had succeeded in terminating the ATVM program, it could have made its eventual chances of passage even more remote.
“We have developed a bipartisan bill that phases out this program in a responsible way … and uses that to pay for water infrastructure needs across the country,” said Stabenow, urging a no vote on Coats’ proposal. Peters also spoke on the floor against the amendment, saying it would upset what has been a carefully crafted agreement” with Republicans to pay for the Flint bill.
Mike Lee should burn in hell for blocking help to Flint. But this is not the first time Republican Senators have voted to block legislation related to proposals their party pretended to co-sponsor. Their core "policy" is obstruction. Time to boot them out of power.