Senate Democrats Block Energy Bill After Republicans Don’t Agree To Aid For Flint

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Senate Democrats stood with Flint today by blocking the advancement of an energy bill after Republicans continued to drag their feet on an aid package for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The final vote was 46-50. Republicans finished 16 votes short of the total needed to advance the energy bill.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called out Republicans two days ago on the Senate floor for their hypocrisy towards Flint.
Reid said:

Last year Texas was devastated with historic flooding, it was the federal government that stepped in to provide disaster relief for the people of Texas. Who stepped in? The federal government stepped in to help the people of Texas. That’s why I was disappointed to see the senior Senator from Texas say:

“While we all have sympathy for what’s happened in Flint this is primarily a local and state responsibility.”

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He didn’t say that when the flooding was taking place last year.

Last year as Florida was hit with extreme flooding, the Senator who finished third last night in the Iowa caucuses called for federal disaster assistance. But when it comes to the children and families of Flint, that Senator instead cautions against our action. He said he had not followed the situation closely but that:

“I believe the federal government’s role in some of these things (is) largely limited unless it involves a federal jurisdictional issue.”

Senator Rubio is not alone. Republican Senators routinely rush to the floor to demand federal aid when trouble hits their backyard. That’s the right thing to do – Americans help each other in times of crisis. This week, the Senate has a chance to help the families suffering through a public health crisis, I hope Republicans who have requested federal aid in the past won’t turn their backs on the people of Flint. If a federal government response is necessary for natural disasters, shouldn’t the federal government help respond to this man-made disaster?

Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters vowed to block the bipartisan energy bill until an amendment containing aid to Flint was agreed to. Negotiators are making progress, but some Republicans like Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK) insulted Democrats by proposing that aid to Flint be paid for out of vehicle manufacturing loan program. In other words, Republicans are looking to take funding away from one key program that is key to Michigan to pay for aid to Flint.

The water crisis in Flint is not a “local issue.” Democrats should remember the Republican reluctance to help Flint the next time a Republican demands aid for his state after a disaster.

Senate Democrats are standing with Flint and are vowing to continue their blockade of the energy bill until an aid package is passed for Flint.