If the next president hopes to heal partisan gridlock in Congress, he or she is going to have their work cut out for them.
The latest example: Congress is bickering over how much aid to provide to Flint as the city continues to take account of the damage caused by switching to lead-tainted pipes.
A $600 million proposal was originally brought forward by Michigan’s two senators that would switch out lead-plagued service lines from individual homes, as well as address health concerns for those who drank the bad water.
But Republicans challenged the bill, saying it’s too expensive. They note the state of Michigan itself has yet to do a cost analysis of what it will take to fix all the problems. They also argue that if the federal government were to get involved it should do so as part of the annual appropriations process, CNN said.
“It strikes me as putting the cart before the horse to say the Senate ought to vote on a $600 million emergency appropriations to pay for a plan that has not yet been created and disclosed to the American people,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the number two GOP leader, said according to CNN.
Democrats then agreed to cut the proposal by more than half. But as a result of the GOP fillibustering, Democrats blocked passage of the bipartisan energy bill that the Flint deal would be attached to. They are also accusing Republicans of turning a blind eye to the situation.
“We’re not looking for something that just gives political cover,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. “These children should not be a political football.”
Cornyn is accusing Democrats of trying to embarrass Republicans, saying they were trying to “portray us for having no compassion for the poor people in Flint, which is exactly the opposite of true,” the Washington Post reported.
Flint is set to receive up to $67 million in state aid, and President Obama is earmarking $80 million in federal funding for Michigan, though its not clear how much money would go to Flint, USA Today reported.
But there’s no sign of when Congress will reach a compromise. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said discussions on ways to help Flint were continuing.
“We want to get this solved,” she said according to USA Today.