House approves $170 million for Flint water crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House on Thursday passed a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint, Michigan's drinking water and $558 million to provide relief to drought-stricken California.

The $10 billion bill was approved, 360-61, Thursday even as some Democrats complained that the drought measure was a giveaway to California farmers and businesses.

The water-projects bill would include language authorizing aid for Flint and other cities afflicted by lead in water, but money for the bill would be included in a short-term spending bill pending in the Senate.

Flint's drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.

Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply.

"Flint families have waited far too long for their government to act, but I am pleased that over $100 million in real federal aid for Flint is a big step closer to becoming reality," said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

US Senator Debbie Stabenow also lauded the aid.

"I applaud the House for passing our bipartisan agreement to provide long-awaited assistance for families in Flint and other communities affected by lead," she said. "It's absolutely critical that the Senate do the same and pass both the Water Resources Development Act and the government funding bill. 

"That is the only way we can guarantee that families affected by this terrible crisis get the assistance they need. The people of Flint have waited far too long for their water system to be fixed so they can have confidence that their water is safe."

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver also released a statement on the aid package.

"Today the U.S. House did something we've long been waiting for, by voting for a $170 million package that would help the City of Flint recover from the water crisis that has affected our city for two and a half years. I want to thank Congressman Dan Kildee for his tireless work to obtain this money, which we'll be able to use to remove even more lead-tainted pipes through my FAST Start initiative.

"I strongly urge the same approval be given Friday in the U.S. Senate, where Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have been pushing hard to pass this aid for Flint. We need this funding to help replace the city's damaged and aging water infrastructure and to provide resources to our children who have suffered from ingesting lead-tainted water through no fault of their own.

"I am hopeful the Senate will see how critical this funding is for the people of Flint and pass the bills to help our community move forward on the road to recovery."
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