Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has decided to place a hold on the vote for S. 2012, which would provide desperately needed funding to Flint, Michigan — the community which has been devastated by water that has poisoned them.
According to Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cruz’s objection to the deal is directly related to the part of the deal which provides funding to the community. As Bloomberg reports, Cruz’s office has not responded to any requests for comments as to why the current senator from Texas has decided to block the vote that would ultimately provide Flint, Michigan, with the funds needed to deal with the pressing water crisis.
Senate Democrats are outraged and stunned by this move from Senator Cruz. Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, was incredulous.
“I think it’s outrageous, if that is the case. I can’t understand why.”
And, as Senator Ted Cruz, during his bid for the GOP nomination for the White House, continues to block the passage of the federal aid bill for the citizens of Flint, Michigan, those citizens still continue to struggle in a town where the very water is actual poison.
The main resistance by those few Republicans against providing Flint, Michigan, with federal aid is the idea that the people of Flint should pay for their own federal assistance. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said bluntly that the role of federal government isn’t “to preemptively pay the bill, it’s working through the EPA and other clean-water trust funds that could be available.”
The main Republican objection to the bill is that they believe that the people of Flint should have to pay for their own federal assistance.
Earlier this month, Harry Reid called out Cruz’s fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn for hypocrisy on Flint.
“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.'”
Furthermore, Cruz also lobbied for federal funds for Texas. Last year, he asked for federal funds for Texas following a series of deadly floods, and he also asked for federal aid in 2013, after the explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. It has been noted, though, that although Cruz has never hesitated to ask for federal funds for his own state following a crisis, his block on providing funds to Flint, Michigan is not the first time he has attempted to deny needed relief to other states. Cruz also opposed any federal aid going to victims of Hurricane Sandy, as well.
The package designed to help address the needs of Flint, Michigan was thought to be a bipartisan bill and included $850 million to address the ongoing public health catastrophe. In order to garner bipartisan support for the bill, Democrats agreed to deep cuts in an advanced vehicle manufacturing loan program in order to provide Flint with the resources its citizens so desperately need.
Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow also berated Senator Ted Cruz, who has been accused of using his senate seat as a platform to further his presidential campaign. Stabenow indicated that his refusal to move forward on a vote for aid in Flint may not be as politically expedient as he may think.
“We have heard that and not a very smart move for a man who’s going to be in a primary in Michigan on March 8. And in Michigan this is a hugely bipartisan nonpartisan issue that everybody cares about.”
The drinking water in Flint became tainted when, in a ploy to save money, the city began to draw water from the Flint River rather than the Detroit water system. The city, which is impoverished, was under the state control of the Republican governor Rick Snyder. Regulators did not ensure that the water was treated properly, as lead from old pipes leached into the city’s water supply. Since then, elevated levels of lead, which is associated with learning disabilities and other health problems, have been found in the blood of children.
Senator Gary Peters said the plan Ted Cruz is currently blocking provides $100 million for subsidized loans and grants to any state that declares an emergency due to a public health threat from lead or other contaminants in its public drinking water supply.
“Certainly Flint is an extreme example right now, but there are problems all over the country” with lead in aging pipes, said the senator. “We’ve got a widespread national problem and there should be resources to help every state in the union.”
UPDATE: Ted Cruz removed the block he had placed on the hold denying aid to Flint, Michigan Thursday morning.
[Image credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images News]