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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Senate Dems Block Energy Bill In Impasse Over Flint

Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a comprehensive energy bill after majority Republicans rejected hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency federal aid to Flint, Michigan, to fix and replace the city’s lead-contaminated pipes.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that “100,000 people in Flint, Michigan have been poisoned, and Republicans do nothing” to help them. “Nine thousand little children … have been poisoned. Still, Senate Republicans refuse to help.”

The vote was 46-50, short of a number necessary to move ahead on the bipartisan legislation, the first such bill in nine years.

Democrats proposed a $600 million aid package for Flint last week, but Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan said they agreed earlier this week to cut that proposal in half.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican, said it was premature to “write a multi-hundred million-dollar blank check” for Flint when state officials have not fully assessed their needs.

Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state management at the time.

Water was not properly treated to keep lead from pipes from leaching into the supply. Some children’s blood has tested positive for lead, a potent neurotoxin linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioral problems.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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