Photo courtesy of Lucho Molina.
Members of Congress succeeded this week in making a deal on government funding, avoiding a shutdown. The key to the deal was an agreement to finally provide aid for Michigan’s drinking water crisis – which, despite its disappearance from headlines, is ongoing. Is there a chance Congress may finally be ready to consider more serious investments in infrastructure?
The people of Flint have gone without a public source of clean drinking water for 887 days. Lawmakers in the Senate refused to pass a funding bill without an “ironclad” agreement from House leadership that next year’s budget will finally provide some relief for Flint.
Under the deal, Flint would receive $170 million in aid – less than the $220 million that Senate Democrats had sought. But aid for Flint won’t be completely secure until Congress passes separate legislation funding water infrastructure projects.
It’s hard to think of something more fundamental to a functioning society than clean drinking water, something so basic that we take it for granted until it disappears. This is exactly the reason we have government – so that we all pitch in for things that benefit us all. It’s nice to see Congress begin to recognize that reality.
This deal should only be the start. In the coming months, as we usher in a new administration and Congress, there will be an opportunity to finally invest in infrastructure that would strengthen America for decades to come. From drinking water to bridges to clean energy, there will be chances to open up new possibilities for jobs, healthy communities, and mitigating climate change. That’s worth doing.