WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will issue subpoenas to emergency managers from Flint, Mich., to testify before the committee. He made the decision during a hearing Wednesday.
The committee examined how the federal government enforced the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint.
Beauvais had no answer after Chaffetz asked him why it took so long to tell the public that the city’s water was contaminated. The information came to light when Flint resident, LeeAnne Walters, a witness at the hearing, complained in February 2015.
“I’m not privy to personal discussions and matters,” Beauvais said.
“It’s important for the EPA to tell the public that they’re poisoning their kids if they drink the water … they sat on that for almost a year,” Chaffetz said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s senior Democrat, said the committee members want Chaffetz to bring Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to the next hearing.
“We’ve been asking to have the governor at this hearing, but the chairman refused,” Cummings said. “And continues to refuse, but I think he’s kind of warming up now because he gave a little heat today.”
Cummings compared the Flint crisis to Hurricane Katrina.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., who was born and raised in Flint, told the committee that the state created the problem and has the capacity to fix it, but won’t.
“I have to ask one simple question – why not?” Kildee said. “I have a very hard time accepting if this had happened in another community that looked different, that there would’ve been action immediately.”
Flint’s population is 57 percent black, and the city has a poverty rate of 42 percent, according to the census.
To save money, a state-appointed official switched the city’s water supply from Detroit to the Flint River without taking precautions to prevent lead from getting into the water system. Residents complained about the water not too long after the switch, but the city government told the residents the water was safe to drink.
The water in Flint tested positive for disease-carrying bacteria and high levels of lead.
The committee is demanding a thorough investigation of the Flint water crisis and another hearing.
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