Michigan's U.S. senators have requested $400 million to fix lead-contaminated water pipes in the city of Flint, which they describe as facing a public health crisis.
The lawmakers planned to include the proposal as part of an amendment to an energy bill being debated in the Senate. The amendment would also require the Environmental Protection Agency to notify residents about unsafe water, create a center to study the effects of lead exposure, and allow the state to forgive some of the city's water infrastructure loans.
Flint residents are still warned to avoid tap water as children in the community were found to have unsafe levels of lead exposure. The problem stems from a decision in April 2014, when the city was under state control, to save money by switching the source of its water supply.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the state must be held accountable, but the first step is addressing the public health crisis. She has said she believes race factored into the situation in Flint, a predominantly poor, black community. “The sad, outrageous reality is that people were not paying attention to what the residents were saying because they weren't a priority,” Stabenow told Yahoo News.
The federal government should step in as it would after a disaster like a tornado or flood, Stabenow said, adding that she expects bipartisan support.