01.20.16

Peters, Stabenow & Weaver Discuss Flint Water Crisis With Department of HHS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver today met with Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to discuss the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The White House announced yesterday that Dr. Lurie has been designated to coordinate the federal response in Flint, and Dr. Lurie and her team are traveling to Michigan to work with state and local officials to coordinate the federal response. Peters, Stabenow and Weaver discussed what actions HHS is taking to address the effects of lead exposure in Flint’s water.

“The City of Flint faces enormous challenges in recovering from this water crisis that happened through no fault of their own,” said Senator Peters. “The Flint community, especially the children who face irreversible damage from lead exposure, need comprehensive action to truly address the extensive nature of issues arising from months of contaminated water. I am pleased that HHS is coordinating a multi-layered federal response, but those efforts must be met with a substantial financial commitment from the State of Michigan, whose short-sighted decision-making led to this crisis.”

“As the Ranking Member on both the Senate Agriculture & Nutrition Committee, and the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee, I am deeply committed to making sure the long term health and nutrition needs of Flint's children are not forgotten,” said Senator Stabenow. “I applaud the President's decision to give Health and Human Services the lead role in this crisis and intend to work closely with them and my colleagues in addressing this historic public health emergency.”

“Senators Peters and Stabenow have been and continue to work with my Administration and community leaders in Flint to assess what federal resources are needed and what can be done to help,” said Mayor Weaver. “A whole of government approach is critical to addressing the far-reaching effects of this lead exposure, and the measures being taken by HHS are a good first step in helping Flint recover. However, we must see a full commitment from the State of Michigan in the immediate and long-term future in order for these resources to be most effective.”

In the meeting, Dr. Lurie outlined a multi-layered approach that includes various elements of HHS, including resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the Administration for Children and Families, as well as close coordination with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In the short-term, HHS is deploying two public health services officers to Flint and establishing operation centers in both Flint and Washington, DC.

Last week, Peters and Stabenow joined Congressman Dan Kildee in urging Governor Rick Snyder to create a “Future Fund” to help deal with the long-term effects of lead exposure in Flint’s children, which include cognitive, behavioral and physical effects.