Sunday is Christmas Day. The people of Flint, Michigan who have been struggling with lead poisoned water for over 2 years now received an unexpected lump of coal as their present. This lump of coal comes courtesy of Rep. Jason Chaffetz the head of the so-called House Oversight Committee.
The Republican closed the hearings on the Flint Water Problem. The Oversight Committee held exactly 3 hearings on the problem in a year. Yes, that is right, three hearings. Chaffetz firmly showed that the House Oversight Committee isn’t interested in Oversight if it involves Republican wrongdoing.
For example, the governor, Rick Snyder, was never called to testify at the hearings. The governor also refused to submit requested documents that would show when he knew of the problem and when he acted on it.
Chaffetz sent a letter to announce the investigation was ending. In his letter Chaffetz said: “The committee found significant problems at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and unacceptable delays in the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the crisis.”
Chaffetz then said in his argument “the federal regulatory framework is so outdated that it sets up states to fail,” Chaffetz called for EPA funds designated for use for studying and combatting climate change be redirected to water pipe improvement projects across the nation. Chaffetz also called for removing the requirement that federally funded drinking-water construction projects pay prevailing wages under the Davis Bacon Act.
“Congress put EPA in this role as a backstop in the event that a state or territory failed to provide safe drinking water,” Chaffetz wrote. “In this case, however, even the federal safeguard failed Flint’s residents.”
The weird part is that Chaffetz never said just how “federal regulatory framework is so outdated”. What I am reading here is that Chaffetz is blaming the EPA for the water crisis. He is blaming the idea that the EPA spends money on studying and combating climate change, and a federal law that forces companies to pay prevailing wages as the root cause of the Flint Michigan water crisis. If those two things were not around, the people of Flint would not have had their governor poison them through their drinking water.
According to Chaffetz, the money-saving scheme to switch Flint’s water from Detroit water to the Flint River without proper consideration for possible pollution had nothing to do with the water crisis. The fact that the switch was made by a so-called Emergency Manager who reported only to Governor Snyder had nothing to do with it.
The fact that the Governor failed to act when the citizens of Flint complained about the drinking water had nothing to do with the problem. The fact that the Governor claims to have known nothing about the problem, but insisted that bottled water be placed in State Buildings long before he acknowledged the problem had nothing to do with the problem.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Cummings refused to sign the letter. In his letter challenging Chaffetz, Cummings said:
Requiring Governor Snyder to finally comply with the committee’s request will allow us to complete our investigation and offer concrete findings and recommendations to help prevent a catastrophe like this from happening again. In contrast, allowing Governor Snyder to flout the committee’s authority will deny the people of Flint the answers they deserve.
Cummings also claimed that 15 current and past Snyder administration officials refused to sit for interviews. He wrote:
They have repeatedly delayed responding to the committee, and they have treated the committee’s requests as an afterthought that they respond to only after addressing other inquiries that they view as higher priorities.
I must admit that this whole process stinks to high heaven. Chaffetz is supposed to head up the “Oversight” committee. Suddenly, when a Republican
governor is in the spotlight, his enthusiasm for “thorough” investigations seems to be missing.
Under Chaffetz’ chairmanship, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee has chased the Planned Parenthood hoax, sought to impeach the IRS commissioner over the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party-affiliated groups that sought tax-exempt status and vowed to continue investigating Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server even after the election.
Yet, when thousands of American people are poisoned by their own drinking water because a Republican governor changes the rules of democracy for his purposes, everything is hunky-dory. A Republican can poison his own citizens in the name of “saving money” and nothing happens to him. He is let off the hook pretty easily.
Besides, who really cares about those rubes living in Flint Michigan? They don’t count. Only power and partisanship counts. Chaffetz has turned the House Oversight Committee into a partisan witch hunt machine to go after anything Democratic and avoid any responsibility for Republican wrongs.
In the meantime, thousands of people in Flint Michigan can still NOT drink their own water. On Friday, President Obama was finally able to sign a bill authorizing $170 million to address the lead poisoning problem in Flint Michigan. I say finally because Republicans held up this bill for over a year. What new?
Rep. Chaffetz gave the people of Flint a Christmas present that we will all be able to expect soon. A lump of coal because how dare they question a Republican Governor just because he poisoned their kids?
If Chaffetz and his “Oversight” committee will let a Governor get away with this, what do you expect they will do with Trump’s conflicts of interest? If your answer is nothing, you are most likely correct.
Rep. Chaffetz and Governor Snyder said to Flint: “Up Yours – Oh, and Merry Christmas. Now just shut up and go away.”