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Pipe Dream? Congressional Dems Propose $400M for Flint Lead Removal

Senate Democrats introduced legislation Thursday, but will Republicans go for it?
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Senate Democrats introduced legislation Thursday that calls for up to $400 million in federal funding to replace lead pipes in Flint, Michigan, as long as the state agrees to cough up just as much.

The lawmakers are hoping to add the funding to an unrelated energy bill, but it's not clear if Republicans will go for it. It's also not clear of Gov. Rick Snyder would agree to match the federal funds; his press secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts have told NBC News that removing the corroded lead pipes that leached toxins into the water system is the permanent fix for the crisis.

But at a press conference this week, Snyder said removing the pipes is not part of the "short-term" plan. In his request for federal aid earlier this month, he estimated it would cost almost $800 million to replace the infrastructure.

Flint's representatives in Congress, Sens. Peters and Stabenow and Rep. Dan Kildee, all Democrats, say the state should be picking up at least half that bill.

"The State of Michigan has the primary responsibility to fix this crisis because they made a number of irresponsible decisions that caused it," said Rep. Kildee.

The proposed amendment also includes $200 million over 10 years to create a Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure in Flint, to connect citizens to services. It would also require the feds to notify the public about lead in the water if the state fails to do so.

Michigan's state legislature on Thursday approved $28 million in additional funds for bottled water, water-bill relief and other efforts.