Paul Ryan: Aid to address lead in Flint, Mich., water on track

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House Speaker Paul Ryan Tuesday promised that a long-delayed aid package to help Flint, Michigan, address its lead-tainted water system is on track to pass into law by the end of the year.

The Wisconsin Republican says the $220 million or so aid package will be addressed “one way or the other.” He said he hopes it will pass as part of a popular water projects bill.

The Flint aid issue was a major sticking point as Republicans and Democrats battled before Congress recessed for the elections. Ryan, despite earlier reservations that Flint’s water problems are a local issue, has come to support federal help for the impoverished city.

Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city, then under state control, began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money. Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply. As many as 12,000 children have been exposed to lead in water, officials say.

“We are going to address Flint,” Ryan said.

Ryan also said negotiations are continuing over a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running into the first months of the Trump administration. It now looks as though the measure will extend beyond the March 31 date Ryan originally envisioned, out of deference to the Senate, which is expected to have a full schedule confirming Trump Cabinet appointees and a potential Supreme Court nominee.

The stopgap spending bill, said Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is also likely to contain $2 billion or so in additional flood relief for Louisiana and other states. President Barack Obama has requested $2.6 billion in rebuilding assistance for the Pelican State; Congress passed a $500 million down payment in September, with Louisiana lawmakers pressing for the remainder now.

“I’m confident it’s going to be resolved the way that we discussed a few months ago,” Scalise said.

The stopgap measure may contain some of the Obama administration’s $11.6 billion request for additional war-related money. Republicans say Obama padded the request with non-defense spending.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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