WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Flint Water Crisis was front and center with Washington Democrats during a hearing in D.C. on Wednesday.
Lawmakers asked several key officials to testify, including Governor Rick Snyder - who declined - but doctors and local leaders were there for second round of testimony in front of House democrats. However, the big sticking point was Snyder.
Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee took the lead on the hearing. The Flint native called the crisis 'personal' and stressed that Snyder is the one person who should have been there. Snyder was invited but declined citing his need to present the budget in Lansing.
"It's disappointing for the Governor of the State of Michigan is not here to answer questions from his point of view. We offered plenty of opportunity to do so," Kildee said.
Without the Governor, the hearing pressed on in an attempt to explain the crisis for the rest of the nation to comprehend. One of those was Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who alerted the government to the problem in the first place.
"It was a perfect storm for lead to leach out of the plumming, into the drinking water. The Flint River was more corrosive than Great Lakes drinking water. The Criminality was that corrosion control was not added to this water treatment," Dr. Hanna-Attisha said.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver was also there to speak on behalf of the people. She said panic is setting in.
"Fear, frustration and anger are beginning to consume residents," Weaver said. "I implore you on behalf of the citizens of Flint to help us restore our city and rebuild trust and confidence in our government. I submit to you that we are not disposable people."
At times both the mayor of flint and superintendent got emotional recalling how we got to this point.
"My students can't walk to the nearest fountain to quench their thirst," Superintendent, Flint School District Bilal Kareem Tawwab.
So what needs to be done? According to Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, President, Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, the very least is to take out the old lines.
"At the very least we need methodical removal of all lead service lines," Dr. Lambrinidou said.
Weaver said she's tired of relying on the Governor's plans and has laid out a $55 million plan to begin replacing the lead pipes. During Snyder's budget proposal, he said he can fast track $25 million to that endeavor immediately.
Kildee is expected in introduced the Familes of Flint Act to get more more money for residents.