Reid: Republicans Should Join With Democrats to Help the People of Flint

“The Republican continuing resolution also ignores a two and a half year crisis in Flint, Michigan. Lead has poisoned all 100,000 people, almost 10,000 children, some of whom are babies.” 

“Would it be asking too much for the Speaker of the House, the Republican leader of the Senate, to stand and say, we’re going to get that thing done, we’re going to pass it, we’re going to make sure that the bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate is going to become law? But they ignore that. They ignore the people of Flint. 

“After the vote on the Republican CR fails this afternoon, I encourage my Republican colleagues to help us have some degree of certainty that the people of Flint will be helped.”

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senator floor today calling on Republicans to join with Democrats to help the people of Flint, Michigan, who continue to struggle with lead-poisoned water. Below are his remarks:

This afternoon the Senate will vote on cloture on the CR proposed by the Republicans. And I appreciate the good work done by appropriators –  ours led by Senator Mikulski. They’ve done good work, and tremendous progress has been made.

The Republican proposal will likely fail to get cloture this afternoon, for good reason. The Republican legislation misses the mark. It seeks to keep in place the status quo in regard to undisclosed, unaccountable dark money that’s flooding our political system.

On my way to work this morning, I just learned that the National Rifle Association has just placed another $1 million of TV ads in Nevada. Now, we all know that the National Rifle Association was really good at direct mail. They raised that money from their members. But that isn’t how it works now.

Most of the NRA money comes from the Koch brothers. That’s the dark money we’re talking about. Those ads will say NRA, but it’s not NRA money. The ads will say Chamber of Commerce, but it’s not Chamber of Commerce money. It’s all Koch money. That’s how it works with the dark money, the undisclosed money.

And the provision that my friend, the Republican leader, has to have in this bill, this resolution, is this: that the Securities and Exchange Commission will be powerless to tell corporations that they have to disclose their campaign contributions. They have to disclose everything else to their shareholders. But not that. Oh, no, that would be terrible. Any type of disclosure –  we want to keep all this money out there dark, secret. No one knows. All these phony names they advertise is just so unfair.

The Republican bill includes a rider that prevents shareholders from knowing how their money is being used in political campaigns. Again, the Republican leader is trying to shut the door on disclosure.

Now, the Republican continuing resolution also ignores a two and a half year crisis in Flint, Michigan. Lead has poisoned all 100,000 people, almost 10,000 children, some of whom are babies.

Lead is a killer for children. After a short period of time, a month, a few weeks, and a child who ingests lead in any way – whether eating paint off the floor, but certainly drinking water – will affect them the rest of their lives. They won’t be as smart as they could be. They won’t be as agile as they could be. It really hurts them. And it’s not good for adults.

So after two and a half years, don’t those people deserve something? The Republican leader said, well, there’s a Water Resource Development Act bill. And I acknowledge that, and I think good work was done to get that passed here. I’ve said yesterday, I will say again today, I appreciate the work of Senator Inhofe. He’s worked with one of the most liberal members of the Senate, Barbara Boxer. He is one of the most conservative. They did good work. I appreciate it very much.

But would it be asking too much for the Speaker of the House, the Republican leader of the Senate, to stand and say, we’re going to get that thing done, we’re going to pass it, we’re going to make sure that the bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate is going to become law? But they ignore that. They ignore the people of Flint.

Now, we are happy to help with the disaster that took place in Louisiana. Since the Assistant Republican Leader is here, we have been happy to help with all the problems, the emergencies that they’ve had in Texas. We’ve stepped up to the plate and we took care of that. We’re happy to do that in Louisiana and this won’t be the reason that I would not support this legislation, but I think Louisiana deserves more than what’s in this bill – $2.8 billion. And in this bill, there’s $500 million, they’ll get most of that. Some, a little bit, will go to West Virginia and some, a little bit, even less, will go to Maryland. It will be divided on a proportionate basis.

But couldn’t they help Flint? The junior senator from Louisiana, here was his response: that’s someone else’s grief. That’s what he said. That’s someone else’s grief. Louisiana wasn’t someone else’s grief when the hurricane struck. It was our grief.

The junior senator from Louisiana should understand that he is a United States senator, not a state Senator from Louisiana. It’s not someone else’s grief. It is our grief. The Republicans are essentially saying the disasters in our states are more important than the disasters in your state. It is unfair and it is wrong.

This morning my leadership team sent a letter to the Republican leader: Durbin, Schumer and Murray. We sent a letter to the Republican leader and Speaker Ryan encourage the Republicans to come back and give us a solution for the people of Flint. After the vote on the Republican CR fails this afternoon, I encourage my Republican colleagues to help us have some degree of certainty that the people of Flint will be helped.

It’s not deficit spending, even though it’s an emergency and I believe it should be taken care of just like we’re taking care of Louisiana. It’s paid for. And in fact, I commend Senator Stabenow and Senator Peters. They took money from a program they have in Michigan that pays for this. It’s not deficit spending, so why can’t they do that? The reasons are apparent, and that’s too bad.

This doesn’t need to be a manufactured crisis. We know the Republicans know how to close the Senate. They did it for 17 days. And they’ve done it another time. We don’t need to have a manufactured crisis. We want to make sure that Flint has some degree of certainty after two and a half years they’re going to get some help. We need to work together to keep our government properly funded and the people of Flint protected. Certainly we should be able to do that.