Sen. Lee on Federalizing Water Infrastructure Financing

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) released the following statement Friday, concerning Senate legislation specifically designed to federalize our nation’s water infrastructure financing system.

“What is happening to the people of Flint, Michigan is a man-made disaster,” Lee said. “Congress has special mechanisms for emergency spending when it is needed, but to date Michigan’s governor has not asked us for any, nor have Michigan’s Senators proposed any. Contrary to media reports, there is no federal ‘aid package’ for Flint even being considered.”

“And for a good reason: federal aid is not needed at this time. The state of Michigan has an enormous budget surplus this year and a large rainy-day fund, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Governor Snyder has requested $200 million of that from the state legislature for Flint this year. Relief and repair efforts are already in the works. The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem. And those public resources are being augmented every day by the generosity of individuals, businesses, labor unions, and civic organizations of every stripe from across the country. The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.

“What’s really happening here is that Washington politicians are using the crisis in Flint as an excuse to funnel taxpayer money to their own home states, and trying to sneak it through the Senate without proper debate and amendment. I respectfully object.”

Water Infrastructure Fact Sheet

Michigan already has the money to address this problem now.

Michigan has at least $386 million in the State’s Rainy Day Fund.
Michigan accumulated a $575 million surplus in 2015.
Relief and repair efforts are already underway.
Michigan already has access to other fully funded programs.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has allotted approximately $25 million to Michigan for FY2016.
The Clean Water State Resolving Fund has allotted $58 million for FY2016.
President Obama denied FEMA aid for Flint.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked President Obama to declare Flint a major disaster in January 2016. President Obama denied that request as well as the $96 million that Snyder asked for.
To the extent the federal government is partly responsible for the Flint crisis, injured parties can access the Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund.

An EPA employee notified the agency months before the emergency became public that Flint probably had a lead contamination problem.
If the residents of Flint believe the EPA should have acted sooner, they can sue the EPA in court, and if they win the Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund can cover any damages without any new legislation, authorization, or appropriation needed.The proposed new water infrastructure programs are not paid for.

The Senate’s new water infrastructure spending is supposedly paid for by redirecting $250 million from the existing Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.
This redirection, however, does not occur until 2020. It is highly likely that if Congress waits until 2020 to redirect this money, there will be none left and the fund will be depleted.

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