WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) spoke on the Senate Floor this afternoon on the government funding bill, which does not include assistance for Flint. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I want to thank my colleagues for their ongoing support and patience as we continue fighting to deliver federal support for Flint families. With an agreement today to take up a bipartisan House amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, we have taken another step forward to finally put Flint on the road to recovery.
“Just a few days ago, we still had some in Congress refusing to even allow a vote to provide any assistance at all to Flint. But with this agreement, we now have a commitment from the House Republican Leadership to move forward in helping Flint families.
“I am pleased with this development, but I remain disappointed that the passage of today’s continuing resolution will not deliver federal funding to Flint residents.
“To be clear - I strongly support continuing to fund the government and believe there are many good policies in this CR.
“It contains resources to address the spread of the Zika virus and disaster relief for flooding victims – both of which I support – but it contains no funding for Flint. We know the threat Zika poses to our nation’s public health and it is critical that we have finally passed funding to accelerate vaccine development, prevent Zika transmission, and boost public health efforts in impacted communities.
“In addition to addressing these emergencies, I also support the inclusion of legislation to fully fund Military Construction and the VA for the coming year. As a former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, I support investments in VA programs, military personnel and family housing for our servicemembers. This critical funding will also address disability claims processing, the healthcare needs of female veterans, and the urgent need to modernize the VA’s information technology systems.
“Inclusion of veterans’ funding and resources to fight Zika had broad bipartisan agreement – but it is important to note, the Senate also reached consensus on providing much-needed relief to the victims in Flint by passing a WRDA bill with 95 votes.
“But these fully paid-for Flint resources were put on hold while disaster relief for flooding victims in Louisiana was included. I support helping people in Louisiana during their crisis, but we should not pick and choose to help some states and not others.
“I could not support a government spending bill that will – once again – force the citizens of Flint to wait on the help they so desperately need.
“It is unacceptable that the bipartisan, fully-offset Flint aid package was left out. There is no excuse for leaving the people of Flint behind.
“It has been a year since the first public health emergency declaration in Flint, and over eight months since a national emergency was declared. Yet almost 100,000 residents of Flint still do not have a reliable source of safe water. They are still using bottled to water to drink, to cook, and to bathe.
“I deeply appreciate the progress we’ve made so far. But Flint families shouldn’t have to wait any longer.
“When disaster strikes in this country, we pull together and help each other out. We should do that for all communities in need. We don’t tell people – who have waited so long – to get to the back of the line.
“This is why I could not support this bill that prioritizes one state’s emergency over another’s.
“We should do right by the people of Flint as well as the victims of flooding, Zika, and other national emergencies.
“Over the coming weeks, I will be working to ensure that we all follow through on the promises made to the people of Flint this week in both Chambers of Congress.
“We must send a bill to the President that will help the people of Flint continue replacing pipes so that they can turn on their faucet and have clean, safe water following from their tap.
“I hope and expect that my colleagues in both Chambers will not let down the people of Flint in their time of need.”