Reid: Republicans Should Put People Of Flint Ahead of the Koch Brothers

“Senate Republicans claim they will address the needs of Flint when we return after the election. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? That has been Republicans go-to move in stalling funding for Flint – they always claim they will do it at a later time.  Flint has heard this and heard this. In the meantime, the people of Flint, if they’re fortunate, can take a drink of water out of a bottle and bathe with bottled water.”

“But instead of helping the children of Flint, Republicans are using this government funding measure to feed their addiction to undisclosed and unaccountable dark money. The Republican leader stuck in this bill, this resolution, this funding resolution, a provision to prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from telling corporations that they must disclose campaign contributions. If there were ever legislation that didn’t deserve a continuing resolution, it would be that.”

“Senate Republicans need to rethink their priorities. Republicans need to spend less time worrying about the balance of their campaign accounts, and more time protecting their fellow Americans in Flint, Michigan.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today calling on Republicans to include a provision in the continuing funding resolution to help the people of Flint, Michigan, who continue to struggle with lead-contaminated water. Below are his remarks:

I’m going to make a few comments on the CR Senator McConnell has given a great statement, but about whom?

It’s a straw man argument. We don’t oppose Zika legislation. We don’t oppose flooding victims. We want more. We think it should be taken care of, but that hasn’t been in this bill, that’s for sure. And opioids — we think it should be funded. Not this path that doesn’t do anything.

What it does is allow you to spend money that’s not here. We think we should do the Shaheen legislation and pay for it. We do believe that we should not leave Flint behind, though. And here’s what I want to say about that.

The CR proposed by Senate Republicans falls short of what the American people need.

I was especially disappointed to see what the Republicans’ proposal is regarding another disaster, a disaster that’s ongoing for well more than a year. This CR – this funding measure does not quote a single penny for Flint, Michigan. Not a penny.

The people of Flint, Michigan have been waiting for emergency assistance to clean their poisoned water for over a year. One-hundred thousand people and children lead-poisoned already.

Senate Republicans claim they will address the needs of Flint when we return after the election. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? That has been Republicans go-to move in stalling funding for Flint – they always claim they will do it at a later time.

Flint has heard this and heard this. In the meantime, the people of Flint, if they’re fortunate, can take a drink of water out of a bottle and bathe with bottled water.

We ran out of time months ago, when Republicans took a seven-week vacation – which was something that is remarkable in history, in more than 60 years.

This crisis is now two and a half years old. I talked about a year, but it’s been going on for a long time because two and a half years ago flint learned that its water was not safe.

Nine months ago, the Republican Governor Snyder and President Obama declared Flint’s water crisis an emergency and deployed five agencies to assist Flint.

Five months ago, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed water infrastructure legislation with a bipartisan aid package for Flint. I commend Senator McConnell for agreeing to do the same thing.

That package was voted out of the Senate less than two weeks ago in a vote of 95-3 as part of the Water Resources Development Act, but House Republicans have made it clear they have no intention of including funding for Flint in that bill.

And still the people of Flint wait for assistance.

I’ve heard all the happy talk. Well, the Republicans are going to take care of this. Call and tell me they’re going to take care of it. Give me some assurance we’re going to take care of it.

One-hundred thousand Flint residents continue to struggle providing clean drinking water to their families.‎ Forty percent of its residents are living below the poverty line.

Flint, Michigan is a community of color, African Americans. The junior senator from Louisiana was especially callous in dismissing the people of Flint. He called the emergency in Flint, quote: “other people’s grief.”

Well, using his analogy, the things we’ve done over the years, with all the problems Louisiana has had – hurricanes, floods, wind storms. And this latest ravaging rain they got in Nevada, I guess that’s somebody else’s problem, the people in Louisiana.

The many problems we’ve had in Texas over the last decade, they are everybody’s problems but not by definition of the senator from Louisiana. They’re not other people’s grief.

I would suggest the relatively new Senator from Louisiana needs to take a moment and study his title: United States Senator—not State Senator from Louisiana — United States Senator. He can look out for the people suffering in Louisiana without turning a cold shoulder on his fellow Americans in Michigan.

Congress must act to address emergencies whenever and wherever they occur, especially to help the most vulnerable Americans. Because every one of these emergencies is creating lots of vulnerable Americans. People in Flint deserves justice.

There are 9,000 children in Flint right now who have been lead poisoned. They deserve help. They deserve clean drinking water. They deserve justice.

But instead of helping the children of Flint, Republicans are using this government funding measure to feed their addiction to undisclosed and unaccountable dark money.

The Republican leader stuck in this bill, this resolution, this funding resolution, a provision to prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from telling corporations that they must disclose campaign contributions. If there were ever legislation that didn’t deserve a continuing resolution, it would be that.

Shadowy special interest groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertisements trying to elect their hand-picked political candidates.

What is this dark money?

All these advertisements with phony front groups, most of which are funded by the Koch brothers. You don’t see their name on anything other than some divert attention thing, public service announcement, how good Koch services are for creating jobs.

Koch industries is great for trying to get richer and richer and richer and trying to enrich these two wealthy, wealthy Republican right-wing men who are doing everything they can to buy America. And they’re doing pretty well.

I have to give them credit for that. If they continue the way they are, they’re going to be first in line. They’re going to be number one to be the number-one oligarch in America. And they can match to see if they’re entitled to be even a notch higher than the number-one oligarch in Russia.

Russia is an oligarchy. And because of the Koch brothers, America is turning into one. And what does the Republican leader do? He sticks a provision in this legislation to protect them even further.

Current federal law requires publicly traded corporations to disclose financial details on their annual report to shareholders, such as how much they are paying their executive officers. But shareholders – the true owners of a corporation – have no idea how much a company is spending on politics, because the Securities and Exchange Commission does not require this to be reported.

Last August, 44 Democratic Senators signed a letter to SEC the in support of adding political disclosure to annual shareholder reports. The Republican Leader wants to stop this. He wants to do everything he can to protect the Koch brothers.

The SEC received nearly 1 million public comments in support of disclosure because it protects the interests of investors—a million comments. That’s unheard of.

Republicans in the Senate are opposed to disclosure. That is why the Republican leader has attached a so-called “rider” to the government funding bill that prevents shareholders from knowing how their money is being used in the political process.

Republicans are holding the government hostage because they want to keep our political system awash in dark money. They don’t give huge contributions to the Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association and on and on. Millions and millions of dollars.

Senate Republicans need to rethink their priorities.

Republicans need to spend less time worrying about the balance of their campaign accounts, and more time protecting their fellow Americans in Flint, Michigan.