Senators Stabenow, Peters: Bipartisan Flint Agreement Passes Senate Committee

Stabenow, Peters Urge Senator McConnell to Immediately Bring Legislation Before Full Senate for Vote

Thursday, April 28, 2016

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today announced that the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed their bipartisan agreement to help families in Flint and other communities across the country. Their agreement was part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed committee 19-1 and is ready for a vote before the full Senate.

“Today, thanks to support from Republicans and Democrats, we are another step closer to passing urgently-needed help for families in Flint and other communities across the country,” said Senator Stabenow. “I urge Senator McConnell to continue this spirit of bipartisanship by bringing this legislation to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.” 

“I’m pleased that legislation providing much-needed assistance for the City of Flint moved forward in the Senate today. The people of Flint are still without access to clean, safe water, and many are still forced to rely on bottled water for cooking, bathing and drinking,” said Senator Peters. “Senator Stabenow and I will be working with our colleagues to move this bipartisan, fully-paid for legislation through the full Senate so that we can help the people of Flint begin to recover from this catastrophe.”

The Stabenow-Peters agreement provides an immediate $100 million in new federal funding to an emergency infrastructure program under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The State of Michigan can access these funds after submitting a comprehensive plan to the EPA. This funding will only be available to a community, like Flint, that received a federal emergency declaration by the President due to a public health threat from high amounts of lead in the water. This language is required because of the Congressional ban on earmarks.

The State of Michigan will be given new flexibility to use funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to forgive Flint’s debts incurred prior to fiscal year 2016, and it lifts the prohibition on using more than 20 percent of the fund’s fiscal year 2016 allotment for principal forgiveness.

The agreement also provides funding to activate at least $700 million in low-interest loans to finance much-needed upgrades to public drinking water systems. These loans will be made possible through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which will be available to eligible communities in all states, including Michigan. 

In addition, there is $17.5 million to create a national registry to monitor health effects of children exposed to lead.

Another $32.5 million is provided to help improve the short- and long-term effects of lead poisoning, including providing assistance to pregnant women and new mothers, while educating and informing the public of the dangers of lead exposure. 

The agreement also includes legislation announced by Senators Peters, Stabenow and Congressman Kildee requiring the EPA to warn the public in the future of high lead levels in drinking water if a state fails to do so.

The Stabenow-Peters agreement is cosponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK),  Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barb Mikulski (D-MD), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).