A Republican U.S. senator from Utah is holding up a federal funding package worth more than $100 million which could help address the issue of high lead levels found in Flint’s water, saying in a statement on Friday that no federal aid is needed at this time.
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee’s statement, which indicated his belief that the measure proposed by U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both D-Mich., represented a “federalizing” of water infrastructure, objected to the bill, arguing the state has not directly asked Congress for any emergency spending and has its own surplus to spend if it needs money.
“Michigan has an enormous budget surplus this year and a large rainy-day fund,” Lee said. “Relief and repair efforts are already in the works. The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem. … The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.”
Stabenow, who worked with Peters for weeks to secure a group of Republican and Democratic cosponsors for the legislation, expressed surprise that Lee has placed a hold on the measure, which effectively keeps the Senate from voting on it, even though it is fully paid for.