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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  February 3, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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>> okay, i will text you. >> a quick reminder as this hearing comes to a close, if you missed any of it you can find it all online at our website. go to we also invite you to weigh in on what you heard during today's testimony. what do you think congress' role should be in the flint, michigan water contamination crisis? go to to share your thoughts. michael writes, in congress should find the science necessary to establish guidelines for public safety and require municipalities to maintain those standards. this from jerry, there are committees in both the house and isn't the that can weigh in on this from federal regulations standpoint. and they should. flint is just the tip of the iceberg. and finally, we ask congressman dan kildee, who represents flint, michigan.dence and he testified at this morning's hearing. we asked him what he thinks the role of congress should be. and here's what he had to >> looking at provide direct aid
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to people. >> yes, as a matter of fact i'lg have a piece of wit legislatione i'll drop this week. we're trying to get it right working with the people on the ground in flint to support somee infrastructure improvement replacing the lead service provd lines, for example, but also providing direct support early . childhood education for every child affected. there are 9,000 kids in flint under the age of 6, like early head start, head start, nutritional support, behavioralr support, smaller class sizes. the kinds of things that we would do for our own children if they had a developmental challenge of some type now provided to all these kids. >> you can see the entire conversation with congressman kildee in our library. also share your thoughts at that house hearing that just wrapped up will be featured primetime tonight on c-span
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starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern. and we'll go live now to baltimore where president obama is set to speak at the islamic society of baltimore about muslims in the u.s. this is his first visit to a mosque as a sitting president. >> -- it's a gesture that includes all faiths and color. more importantly ensure most american kids constantly bombarded by antiislamic rhetoric that they belong. fortunately, i've had personal interactions that have allowed me to reach a much different perspective than what is normally portrayed on the media. when most see this piece of cloth on my head, i don't automatically get deemed terrorist. rather, most see me as an individual. my experiences have taught me that most are accepting and believe regardless of faith, color or gender we are all americans. and as such we are all obligated to uphold the rights of every
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individual. connecting with my community here at isb allowed me to form my muslim identity. my journey to where i am today started the first day i decided to where my hijab as a junior in pikesville high. i was so nervous to walk down the streets to my bus stop thinking what will my friends think, that i'm a terrorist? while i did receive a few remarks as such, most were reassuring like jake from my bus stop who nodded at that thing on my head and said, hey, that's pretty cool. never did i feel as though i wasn't part of the community. i was just as american and just another high schooler. i'm sorry. assertions as such are what gave me the confidence to be who i am today. and i strongly believe to a lot of muslims out there the appearance of our president and our local mosque today does exactly just that. and personally, assures me that i, a proud black muslim
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african-american am just as american and have the obligation to fulfill my loyalty to my country as any other. [ applause ] so thank you, mr. president, for this historic visit that will serve to inspire every american to engage in the work of building bridges across communities. now it is my honor to introduce to you the president, our president of the united states, president barack obama. [ cheers and applause ] >> please, be seated. well, good afternoon. and thank you for the wonderful introduction. and for your example, your devotion to your faith and your
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education and your service to others. you're an inspiration. you're going to be a fantastic doctor. and i suspect your parents are here because they wanted to see you. where are saba's parents? there you go. yeah. good job, mom. [ applause ] she did great, didn't she? she was terrific. to everyone here at the islamic society of baltimore, thank you for welcoming me here today. i want to thank muslim american leaders from across this city and this state, and some who traveled even from out of state to be here. i want to recognize congressman john as well as congressman keith ellison from the great state of minnesota and
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congressman andre carson from the great state of indiana. [ applause ] this mosque, like so many in our country is an all-american story. you've been part of this city for nearly half a century. you've served thousands of families, some who've lived here for decades as well as immigrants from many countries who've worked to become proud american citizens. to the folks who haven't visited a mosque, think of your own church or synagogue or temple and a mosque like this will be very familiar. this is where families come to worship and express their love for god and for each other. there's a school where teachers open young minds, kids play baseball and football and basketball, boys and girls. i hear they're pretty good.
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cub scouts, girl scouts, meat, recite the pledge of allegiance. you build bridges of understanding with other faith communities, christians and jews. there's a health clinic that serves the needy regardless of their faith. and members of this community are out in the broader community working for social justice and urban development. as voters you come here to meet candidates. as one of your members said, just look at the way we live. we are true americans. so the first thing i want to say is two words that muslim americans don't hear often enough, and that is thank you. thank you for serving your community. thank you for lifting up the lives of your neighbors and for helping keep us strong and united as one american family.
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[ applause ] this brings me to the other reason i wanted to come here today. i know that in muslim communities across our country this is a time of concern and, frankly, a time of some fear. like all americans you're worried about the threat of terrorism. but on top of that, as muslim americans you also have another concern and that is your entire community so often is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few. muslim american community remains very small in this country, as a result most americans don't know or at least don't know that they know a muslim person. and as a result many only hear about muslims and islam from the
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news after an act of terrorism. or in distorted media portrayals in tv or film. all of which gives this hugely distorted impression. and since 9/11 but more recently since the attacks in paris and san bernardino you've seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith. and of course recently we've heard inexcusable political rhetoric against muslim americans that has no place in our country. no surprise then that threats and harassment of muslim americans have surged. here at this mosque twice last
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year threats were made against your children. around the country women wearing the hijab, just like saba, had been targeted. we've seen children bullied. we've seen mosques vandalized. others perceived to be targeted as muslims as well. i just had a chance to meet with some extraordinary muslim americans from across the country who are doing all sorts of work. some of them are doctors. some of them are community leaders, religious leaders. all of them were doing extraordinary work not just in the muslim community but in the american community. and they're proud of their work in business and education and on behalf of the social justice and environment and education. i should point out they were all much younger than me, which it is happening more frequently these days.
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you couldn't help but be inspired hearing about the extraordinary work that they're doing. but you also could not help but be heartbroken to hear their worries and their anxieties. and they talked about how their children were asking are we going to be forced out of the country. are we going to be rounded up? why do people treat us like that? conversations that you shouldn't have to have with children. not in this country. not in this moment. and that's an anxiety echoed in letters i get from muslim americans around the country. i have people write to me saying
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i feel like a second-class citizen. i've had mothers write and say my heart cries every night thinking about how our daughter might be treated at school. girl 13 years old told me i'm scared. a girl from texas signed her letter, a confused 14-year-old trying to find her place in the world. these are children just like mine. and the notion they would be filled with doubt and questioning their place in this great country of ours, at a time when they've got enough to worry about. it's hard being a teenager already. that's not who we are. we're one american family and when any part of our family starts to feel second class or
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targeted it tears at the very fabric of our nation. [ applause ] it's a challenge to our values and that means we have much more work to do. we have to tackle this head-on and we have to be honest and clear about it and we have to speak out. a moment as when as americans we have to truly listen to each other and learn from each other. and i believe it has to begin with a common understanding of some basic facts. and i express these facts although may be obvious to many of the people in this place because unfortunately it's not facts that are communicated on a regular basis through our media. so let's start with this fact. for more than 1,000 years people
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have been drawn to islam's message of peace. and the very word itself islam comes from salam, peace. peace be upon you. and like so many faiths, islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity. whoever wants to enter paradise, the prophet mohamed taught, let him treat people the way he would love to be treated. [ applause ] and for christians like myself i'm assuming that sounds familiar. the world's 1.6 billion muslims are diverse as humanity itself. they're arabs, africans from latin america to southeast asia,
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brazilians, nigh jeerernigerian black, there's a large diversity. that diversity is represented here today. a 14-year-old boy in texas whose mom spoke for many when she said we just want to live in peace. here's another fact, islam has always been part of america. starting in colonial times many of the slaves brought here from africa were muslim. and even in their bondage some kept their faith alive. a few even won their freedom and became known to many americans. and when enshrining the freedom of religion in our constitution and our bill of rights our founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions. you know, back then muslims were often called mohamedtants.
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and thomas jefferson explained that the virginia statute for religious freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths. and i'm quoting thomas jefferson now, the jew and the gentile, the christian and the mohamedtan. [ applause ] jefferson and john adams had their own copies of the koran. benjamin franklin wrote that even if the mufti of constant nope l to us he would find a pulpit at his service. [ applause ] so this is not a new thing. generations of muslim americans helped to build our nation. they were part of the flow of
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immigrants who became farmers and merchants. they built america's first mosque surprisingly enough in north dakota. america's oldest surviving mosque is in iowa. the first islamic center in new york city was built in the 1890s. muslim americans worked on henry ford's assembly line cranking out cars. muslim american -- a muslim american designed the skyscrapers of chicago. in 1957 when dedicating the islamic center in washington, d.c., president eisenhower said i should like to assure you my islamic friends that under the american constitution and in american hearts this place of worship is just as welcome as any other religion. [ applause ]
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and perhaps the most pertinent fact muslim americans enrich our lives today in every way. there are neighbors, the teachers who inspire our children, the doctors who trust us with our health, future doctors like saba, scientist who is win nobel prizes. young entrepreneurs creating new technologies that we use all the time. they're the sports heroes we cheer for like mohammad ali and kareem abdul-jabbar. hakeem. when team usa marches into the next olympics, one of the americans waving the red, white and blue will be a fencing champion wearing her hijab. she is here today. stand up. come on. [ cheers and applause ]
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i told her to bring home the gold. [ laughter ] not to put any pressure on you. muslim americans keep us safe. there are police and our firefighters, they're our homeland security, in our intelligence community. they serve honorably in our armed forces, meaning they fight and bleed and die for our freedom. some rest in arlington national cemetery. [ applause ] some of the most brilliant and patriotic americans you'll ever meet. we're honored to have some of our proud muslim american servicemen and women here today. please stand so we can thank you for your service.
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[ applause ] so part of the reason i want to lay out these facts is because in the discussions that i was having with these incredibly accomplished young people, they are pointing out that so often they felt invisible. and part of what we have to do is to lift up the contributions of the muslim american community not when there's a problem but all the time. our television shows should have some muslim characters that are unrelated to national security. [ applause ] all right.
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because -- it's not that hard to do. there was a time when there were no black people on television. and you can tell the stories while still representing the reality of our communities. now, we do have another fact that we have to acknowledge. even as the overwhelming majority, and i repeat the overwhelming majority of the world's muslims embrace islam as a source of peace, it is undeniable that a small fraction of muslims propagate a preverted interpretation of islam. this is the truth. groups like al qaeda and isil, they're not the first extremists in history to misuse god's name. we've seen it before across
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faiths. but right now there is an organize organized extremist element that draws selectively from islamic text, twist them in an attempt to justify their killing and their terror. they combine it with false claims that america and the west are at war with islam. and this warped thinking that has found adherence around the world including as we saw in boston, chattanooga and san bernardino, is real. it's there. and it creates tensions and pressure that disproportionately burden the overwhelming majority of law-abiding muslim citizens. the question then is how do we move forward together. how do we keep our country strong and united?
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how do we defend ourselves against organizations that are bent on killing innocence? and it can't be the work of any one faith alone. it can't be just a burden on the muslim community, although the muslim community has to play a role. we all have responsibilities. with the time i have left i just want to suggest a few principles that i believe can guide us. first, at a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect, we have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths. we are all god's children. we're all born equal with inherent dignity. and so often we focus on our outward differences and we forget how much we share. christians, jews, muslims, we're all under our faiths descendants
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of abraham. so mere tolerance of different religions is not enough. our faith summons us to embrace our common humanity. old mankind, the koran teaches, we have made you peoples and striebs that you may know one another. [ applause ] so all of us have the task of expressing our religious faith in a way that seeks to build bridges rather than to divide. second, as americans we have to stay true to our core values and that includes freedom of religion for all faiths. i already mentioned our founders like jefferson knew that religious liberty is essential not only to protect religion but
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because religion helps strengthen our nation. if it is free, if it is not an extension of the state, part of what's happened in the middle east and north africa and other places where we see sectarian violence is religion being a tool for another agenda, for power, for control. freedom of religion protects that. protects religious faiths, protects the state from -- or those who want to take over the state from using religious animosity as a tool for their own ends. that doesn't mean those of us with religious faiths should not be involved.
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remember many preachers and pastors fought to abolish the evil of slavery. people of faith advocated to improve conditions for workers and ban child labor. dr. king was joined by people of many faiths challenging us to live up to our ideals. and that civil activism, that civic participation that's the ensis of our democracy, it is enhanced by freedom of religion. now, we have to acknowledge that there have been times where we have fallen short of our ideals. by the way, thomas jefferson's opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a muslim. so i was not the first -- [ applause ]
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no, it's true. look it up. i'm in good company. but it hasn't just been attacks of that sort that have been used. mormon communities have -- that attacked throughout our history, catholics including most prominently jfk, john f. kennedy when he ran for president was accused of being disloyal. there was a suggestion that he would be taking orders from the pope as opposed to upholding his constitutional duties. anti-semitism in this country has a sad and long history. and jews were excluded routinely from colleges and professions and from public office. and so if we're serious about freedom of religion, and i'm speaking now to my fellow christians who remain a majority in this country, we have to
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understand attack on one faith is attack on all our faiths. [ applause ] and when any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up. and we have to reject politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion. we've got to make sure the hate crimes are punished. and that the civil rights of all americans are upheld. and just as faith leaders including muslims must speak out when christians are persecuted around the world. [ applause ] or when anti-semitism is on the rise. because the fact is that there are christians who are targeted now in the middle east despite having been there for centuries,
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and there are jews who've lived in places like france for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault. sometimes by muslims. we have to be consistent in condemning hateful rhetoric and violence against everyone that includes against muslims here in the united states of america. none of us can be silent. we can't be bystanders to bigotry. and together we've got to show that america truly protects all faiths. which brings me to my next point. as we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the
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rhetoric of the terrorist themselves. i often hear it said we need more clarity in this fight. and the suggestion is somehow that if i would simply say these are all islamic terrorists then we would actually have solved the problem by now, apparently. well, i agree, we actually do need moral clarity. let's have moral clarity. groups like isil are desperate for legitimacy. they try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for islam. i refuse to give them legitimacy. we must never give them that legitimacy. [ applause ] they're not defending islam. they're not defending muslims. the vast majority of the people they kill are innocent muslim men, women and children.
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[ applause ] and by the way the notion that america's at war with islam ignores the fact that the world's religions are a part of who we are. we can't be at war with any other religion because the world's religions are a part of the very fabric of the united states, our national character. [ applause ] so the best way for us to fight terrorism is to deny these organizations legitimacy and to show that here in the united states of america we do not suppress islam. we celebrate and lift up the success of muslim americans. that's how we show the lie that they're trying to propagate. we shouldn't play into terrorist propaganda.
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and we can't suggest islam itself is at the root of the problem. that betrays our values. it alienates muslim americans, it's hurtful to those kids who are trying to go to school. and remembers the boy scouts and are thinking about joining our military. that kind of mindset helps our enemies. it helps our enemies recruit. it makes us all less safe. so let's be clear about that. now, finally, just as all americans have responsibility to reject discrimination, i've said this before. muslims around the world have a responsibility to reject extremist ideologies that are trying to penetrate within
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muslim communities. here at this mosque and across our country and around the world, muslim leaders aroundly and repeatedly and consistently condemning terrorism. and around the globe muslims who've dared to speak out have been targeted and even killed. so those voices are there. we just have to amplify them more. [ applause ] it was interesting in the discussion i had before i came out some people said why is there always a burden on us when a young man in charleston shoots african-americans in a church? there's not an expectation that every white person in america suddenly is explaining they're not racist. everybody is assumed to be horrified by that act. and i recognize that sometimes that doesn't feel fair.
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but part of the answer is to make sure the muslim community in all of its variety, in all the good works it's doing, in all the talent on display that it's out there on a consistent basis visible not just at a certain moment. but what is also true is is that there is a battle of hearts and minds that takes place, that is taking place right now. and american muslims are better positioned than anybody to show that it is possible to be faith ful to islam and to be part of a pluralistic society and to be on the cutting edge of science. and to believe in democracy. and so i would urge all of you not to see this as a burden but as a great opportunity and a
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great privilege to show who you are. to use a little christian expressi expression, let your light shine. because when you do you'll make clear that this is not a clash of civilizations between the west and islam, this is a struggle between the peace loving, overwhelming majority of muslims around the world and a radical tiny minority. and ultimately i'm confident that the overwhelming majority will win that battle. [ applause ] muslims will decide the future of your faith. and i'm confident in the
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direction that it will go. but across the islamic world influential voices should consistently speak out with affirmative vision of their faith. and it's happening. these are the voices of muslim clerics who teach islam prohibits terrorism for the koran says whoever kills an innocent it is as if he has killed all mankind. [ applause ] these are the voices of muslim scholars some of whom joined us today who know islam has a tradition of respects for other faiths. and muslim teachers who point out that the first word revealed in the koran means read, to seek knowledge, to question assumptions. [ applause ] and against conspiracy theories
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that says america is the cause of every ill in the middle east. now, that doesn't mean that muslim americans aren't free to criticize american u.s. foreign policy. that's part of being an american. i promise you as the president of the united states i'm mindful that that is a healthy tradition that is alive and well in america. these leaders need to continue to provide a positive influence. and we have to acknowledge much of the violence in places like the middle east is now turning into fights between sects, shia, sunni and others, where differences are often exploited to serve political agendas, as i said earlier.
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and this bloodshed is destroying muslim families and communities. and there has to be global pressure to have the vision and courage to end this kind of thinking and this approach to organizing political power. it's not historically unique. it's happened in every part of the world. from northern ireland to africa to asia to right here in the united states in the past. but it is something we have to fight against. and we know it's possible. across the history of islam different sects traditionally have lived and thrived together peacefully. and in many parts of the world they do today including here in the united states. people of all religions, muslims living their faith in a modern pluralistic world are called upon to uphold human rights.
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to make sure everyone has opportunity. that includes the aspirations of women and youth and all people. if we expect our own dignity to be respected, so must we respect the dignity of others. [ applause ] so let me conclude by saying that as muslim communities stand up for the future that you believe in, that you exhibit in your daily lives, as you teach your children, america will be your partner. we will -- i will do everything i can to lift up the multiplicity of muslim voices that promote pluralism and peace. [ applause ] we will continue to reach out to young muslims around the world
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empowering them with science and technology and entrepreneurship so they can pursue their god given potential and help build up communities and provide opportunity. it's why we will continue to partner with muslim american communities not just to help you protect against extremist threats but to expand health care and education and opportunity. because that's the best way to build strong resilient communities. our values must guide us in this work. engagement with muslim american communities must never be a cover for surveillance. we can't give in to profiling entire groups of people. there is no one single profile of terrorists. we can't securetize our entire relationship with muslim americans. we can't deal with you solely through the prism of law enforcement. we've got to build trust and mutual respect. that's how we'll keep our communities strong. and our communities united.
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now, as i was in discussion with the young people before i came in here, i said this will be a process. law enforcement has a tough job. some of these groups are specifically trying to target muse limb youth. we're going to have to be partners in this process. there will be times where the relationship is clumsy or mishandled. but i want you to know that from the president to the fbi director to everybody in law enforcement, my directive and their understanding is is that this is something we have to do together. if we don't do it well, we're actually making ourselves less safer. here i want to speak directly to the young people who may be listening.
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you know, in our lives we all have many identities. we are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, classmates, cub scout troop members, we're followers of our faith, we're citizens of our country and today there are voices in this world particularly over the internet who are constantly claiming that you have to choose between your identities. as a muslim, for example, or an american, do not believe them. if you're ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clear as i can as president of the united states, you fit in here. right here. you're right where you belong. you're part of america too. [ applause ] you're not muslim or america, you muslim and american. and don't go cynical.
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don't respond to ignorance by embracing a world view that suggests you must choose between your faith and your patriotism. don't believe that you have to choose between your best impulses and somehow embrace a world view that pits us against each other, or even worse, glorifies violence. understand your power to bring about change. stay engaged in your community. help move our country forward, your country forward. [ applause ] we are blessed to live in a nation where even if we sometimes stumble, even if we sometimes fall short, we never stop striving for our ideals. we keep moving closer to that more perfect union.
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we're a country where if you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can ultimately make it. no matter who you are or how you pr pray. it may not always start off even in the race, but here more than any place else there is the opportunity to run that race. and as we go forward, i want every muslim american to remember you are not alone. your fellow americans stand with you just as saba described her friends after she decided that she was going to start wearing a hijab. that's not unusual. because just as so often we only hear about muslims after a terrorist attack, so often we only hear about america's response to muslims after a hate crime has happened. and we don't always hear about the extraordinary respect and
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love and community that so in americans feel. i'm thinking about the 7-year-old boy in texas who emptied his piggy bank to help a mosque that had been vandalized. [ applause ] or all the faith communities that rallied around muslim americans after the tragedy in chapel hill. the churches and the synagogues standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their local mosques including the woman carrying the sign saying we love our muslim neighbors. think of our men and women in uniform who when they heard that a little girl was afraid because she was a muslim sent her a message, i will protect you. [ applause ] i want every american to remember how muslim communities are standing up for others as well. because right now as we speak
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there are muslims in kenya who save christians from terrorists, and muslims who just met in morocco to protect religious minorities including christians and jews. [ applause ] the good people of this mosque helped this city move forward after the turmoil of last year. muslim americans across the country helped african-american churches rebuild after arson. remember the muslim americans in boston who reached out to victims of the marathon bombing, and the muslim americans across the country who raised money for the families of san bernardino. the muslim americans in chattanooga who honored our fallen service members, one of them saying in the name of god, the god of abraham, moses, jesus and mohamed, god bless our fallen heroes. [ applause ] we are one american family. we will rise and fall together.
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it won't always be easy. there will be times where our worst impulses are given voice. but i believe that ultimately our best voices will win out. [ applause ] and that gives me confidence and faith in the future. after more than 200 years our blended heritage, the patchwork quilt which is america, that is not a weakness. that is one of our greatest strengths. it's what makes us a beacon to the world. it's what led -- that mother who wrote to me, the one who worries about her young daughter, it led her to end her letter with hope despite her fears, she said, i still believe in one nation,
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under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. may god's peace be upon you. may god bless the united states of america. thank you very much everyone. thank you. [ cheers and applause ]
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finishing up with president
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obama, some news from the campaign trail this afternoon. senator rand paul has suspended his bid for the republican presidential nomination. politico writing that senator paul told senior staff about his decision on tuesday. senior staff on tuesday, other staff were notified tuesday evening that the entire paul campaign was told via conference call wednesday morning at about 8:45. his decision comes two days after finishing with under 5% in the iowa caucuses. that story from politico today. c-span's campaign coverage continues in new hampshire ahead of the first in the nation primary. john kasich will speak to supporters at the new hampshire business forum and at 6:00 p.m. eastern it's jeb bush's turn at a town hall meeting in laconia. at 6:30, governor chris christie speaks to supporters at a fire department in milford. you can watch that live on our companion network c-span 2.
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>> if you're interested in the process, it has to begin in iowa and new hampshire. we don't set the rules in terms of which state is first or second. there are a lot of people interested in this election. er four years the american people make a decision to say who should be the leader of the free world. who should be our president. so for those who want to follow the process and do it in a way that is unfiltered, we're the only place that does that. the other thing the keep in mind is that as you look at these candidates you're able to see how they're trying to close the deal and during the final days of any campaign there's a lot of attention on every nuance, every news story, every speech, every ad, how is one candidatand caca to rebut the other? how are you trying to respond to those in this day in age of social media and twitter. the news cycle is constant. so we're the one place that can
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allow you to take a step back and watch it. you can get the analysis on other networks, you can certainly hear viewers call and weigh in on the programming but we're the one place that allows you to see it as it happens and make up your own decision. earlier today, the house oversight and government reform committee met to talk about the tainted water crisis in flint, michigan. one of the witnesses was congressman dan kilby who represents residents of flint. we'll show the entire hearing tonight at 8:00 but right now here is congressman kilby's testimony to the committeement it begins with opening statements. >> under the rules of the house and committee to maintain order and preserve decorum, we appreciate your participation here today but i remind everybody that this is a congressional hearing. and there is a certain decorum
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that we would appreciate everybody's participation in. i believe there's people in the overflow room and what not. we're glad to do this and have everybody here today. prior to opening statements, i want to address some people who probably should be here that were invited to be here and others that members on both sides wanted to be hear. we have two panels today, i think this will be a good first step moving forward. some people have wanted the governor to be here, some people have wanted the epa administrator to be here. we're going to have this hearing today. we have documents that will be provided by by the epa and others and we will move forward from there. let me address a few people that i need to -- that were anticipated to be here. miguel del toro is the program manager for region five water division at the epa. this by all appearances at
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least, what i've seen so far is a good person who is doing good work and made the right moves at the right time. ms. leanne walters, who we're going to hear testimony in our second panel from, contacted the epa in february of 2015. keep the time line in place. february of 2015. mr. del toro was very responsive and came to her house and tested the water. in that same month. he was sent an invitation to appear as a witness before the committee. we did that last week. but in further discussions with the epa and given his excessive and appropriate responsiveness to the committee we have come to understand he's very active in the cleanup efforts as we speak. we therefore have excused him today and communicated to the epa after good discussions with the epa that they would provide
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all of his e-mails by the end of this week. we think that is a good and productive step forward. we did not compel or push to have mr. del toro come before us today and a consultation with the democrats i think this is the right move. susan hedman is the former region five administrator for-to-the epa. she is no stranger to the committee. july of 2015 we held a hearing about mismanagement and retaliation at the epa in region five which is based in chicago. this has been a problem for the committee and her actions in management. again, she is the former epa administrator for region five. now i have a few documents that i'd like to enter into the record so i would ask unanimous consent to enter a june 24, 2015
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e-mail, memo, from miguel del toro to thomas poy, who's the chief groundwater -- at the drinking water branch. part of this e-mail says "recent drinking water sample results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water." without objection, that will be entered into the record. i also have an april 27 e-mail from miguel del toro to thomas poy. "flint has not been operating in a corrosive control treatment which is very concerning given the likelihood of lead service lines in the city." without objection, i'll enter that into the record. we have e-mail here that is dated july 1 from susan hedman to dane walling, the mayor of
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flint, "the preliminary draft report should not have been released outside of the agency." without objection, we'll enter that into the record. and another one from susan hedman to dane walling "i'm not inclined for my staff to have any further communication with the aclu representative. we need to focus on finalizing the report. in the meantime, however, i have no objection to the city letting them know that the report he was given was preliminary draft and that he would be premature to draw any conclusions based on that draft." again, this is july. you'll see that this has been redacted. the top part. the epa has agreed by the end of the week we will get these non-redacted versions of these e-mails. without objection, we'll enter these four documents into the record. the committee requested a transcribed interview with ms. hedman in a letter sent to the epa last week. shortly after the extent of the crisis in flint became public, ms. hedman resigned her position
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in late january. the epa has agreed to provide all of ms. hedman's e-mails by the end of the week. today -- this one right here, we are issuing a subpoena for susan headman to appear before the committee and participate in a deposition: this will happen later this month. darnell early is the former emergency manager for the city of flint. he is the former emergency manager for flint, michigan. he was appoint the position in 2013 and tasked with overseeing flint's finances. mr. early left his position in january of 2015 flint city council voted 7-1 to make the transition from detroit city water. the committee sent -- he's vital to understanding what happened and how these decisions were
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made. committee sent mr. early an invite letter last week. he knew this was happening and he knew he was invited to appear as a witness before the committee. most of the people that appear before the committee, they do not -- we do not need to compel them to attend. participation, though, before in committee, is not optional. when you get invited to come to the oversight and government reform committee, you are going to show up. we were told at i believe 7:50 p.m. on monday night that he would not attend. on tuesday i issued a subpoena. normally these are done electronically with the council of reco -- counsel of record. his attorney refused service. we're calling on the u.s. marshals to hunt him down and give him that subpoena. [ applause ]
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today we're issuing a new subpoena: he will appear and he will be here to do a deposition later this month. this subpoena will be issued today but we'll need the help of the united states marshals. i forgot to issue one other document. i'd ask unanimous consent to enter into this document, this is -- for the record, sorry, enter into the record. this is from susan hedman. this is a december 10, 2015. "natural resources defense council petitioned back in october to get the epa to do its job. again, further delaying it led to members of the public loo-to-look at this but i ask unanimous consent to sfenter th into the record. so i don't know if mr. cummings has any business or things he wants to enter into the record. with that, let us transition,
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appreciate the indulgence of the committee but i think it's important members understand where we are with subpoenas, with people's participation and the intent of the committee to participate in these depositions. so let's go to the opening statement. i would like to yield to the gentleman from michigan, mr. wahlberg, for his comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i thank you for taking this issue, this hearing and spent very seriously. it is a serious issue. i recognize my good friend and colleague representative kildee, the gentleman from flint, the efforts you've carried on is important. for michigan it's important but i would mention that my other colleagues, this is important for the united states. we have infrastructure needs, we have challenges with government at all levels all around this country and we need to take it seriously and so to mr. kildee, thank you for raising this.
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for flint water crisis is, indeed, a human tragedy. it's not a natural disaster. it's a human disaster brought on by failures of humans, but i think as well brought on by failures of government at all levels. we are here as a government oversight and reform committee to do the very thing that's necessary, to do oversight and then reform to make it right where we can. sadly. i think of it as a grandfather and father. i wouldn't want my kids or my grand kids to have to drink this type of water. it's not -- [ applause ] it's not the thing we should expect in america especially. but it's happened and now the issue is how do we make it right? how do we move forward? the lives of young children will be impacted for years to come, sadly. the dreams and aspirations coming from their parents will be impacted.
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we're here today to find answers, to get answers and to help for the people of flint but also for the people of the united states. we must get all the facts and get them right. there must be accountability where accountability needs to be taken. these children and families deserve nothing less, mr. chairman, i want to be clear. again, this was a failure of governme government. a key failure of government. and just as this crisis was a failure at every level, the effort to make things right must be a cooperative effort at every level as well. the safety and well-being of our citizens is not a republican or a democrat or an independent issue, it's a human issue, it's an american issue that affects americans' lives. politicizing this tragedy won't solve the problem and it won't help the children of flint. i make my commitment, mr. chairman, i make it to you, mr.
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kildee, as well. this will be an that effort's bipartisan. you've seen our delegation step up even with legislation to assist in this deal. i hope today's hearing will begin to shine the light on how this tragedy happened, who is involved, how we can make it right and how we can never let it a again so we can move forward together to fix and ensure that this american ideal that allows people to be free, safe, secure, and upwardly mobile happens to a great degree by principles developed in this hearing. mr. chairman, i thank you and yield back. >> thank you. i would remind the audience, displays of approval or disapproval, clabing, not necessarily appropriate for this committee hearing so if you would please refrain from applause and what not we would all appreciate it. this is the united states of america. this isn't supposed to happen here. we're not some third world country where you get a hundred
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thousand people who get pois poisoned, poisoned, for long period of times. i can't -- i can't even begin to express -- i don't know how my wife and i would deal with our kids being poisoned. i just physically cannot even understand or comprehend what the parents and the loved ones and individuals who have been drinking that water have been going through and i'm disappointed in the response at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level. this is a fraailing at every level. it's absolutely and fundamentally totally wrong. the public has a right to be outraged, outrage doesn't even begin to cover it. so i don't know how we fix this but it has to be fixed. we're going to hear from one of our witnesses today, i chatted with her for a moment before, ms. walters, and appreciate your coming before the committee and
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doing what you did early on in the process, i really do and i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. we can't let this happen. it should have never happened in the first place. i'm going to yield back and let's give time to our ranking member mr. cummings for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, mr. kildee and i really appreciate you and mr. lawrence for all of your efforts for requesting this hearing and making it happen and mr. chairman i want to yield three minutes to my distinguished colleague ms. lawrence from michigan for her opening. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and to the ranking member cummings. i want to personally thank you for holding this hearing. in my letter to the chairman on january 12 of this year, i asked that this hearing examine the
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action of key decision makers involved in the development of this drinking water contamination crisis. i never thought this could happen in america in this day in age in our great country and our great home of michigan where we're surrounded by fresh water and the great lakes. every american has the right to three basic needs from their government -- clean air to breathe, safe food to eat and air that they can breathe that will not harm them bodies. we in government have failed the them. providing these basic needs, we've failed their trust. i'm pleased ms. walters is here because she puts a face on this tragedy. she, like so many mothers and residents of flint deserve to be heard. they're putting their trust in the government to fully investigate the wrongs that this city and these citizens of america have suffered and today
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we have a chance to start rebuilding that trust. i submit to you, mr. chairman, that while we're doing the right thing in holding this hearing and appreciate your swift reaction to my request for these hearings, it's difficult to correct the mistakes of the past unless we call the decision makers in this man-made disaster and ask them what happened, why did it happen and when did you know and what did you do when you found out about it. i want to publicly renew my request for another hearing and i'm so encouraged to hear that there will be. i strongly believe that governor rick snyder, dan ewyatt, mr. early and other michigan state officials directly related to this devastating event before this body should come and they should answer the questions. . the people of flint, to congressman kildee, i stand with you in this fight.
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i know that i've walked through flint, met with so many people. and the heart and courage you're having during this crisis, i want you to know i'm standing with you, i will fight for you and mr. kildee i will be right there with you. my objective is that never again in america we can fix this but we have to have those who made the decisions come forward and give answers and i yield back my time. >> mr. chairman, the -- we are the last line of defense. i thank you for calling this hearing because there's some chairman that would haven't called it and i mean that, they would haven't called it but you did. and finally i want to say a special thank you to the many residents of flint, michigan, who traveled all the way here to
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washington, d.c. to attend today's hearing and to you we thank you and reverend sharpton, i thank you for being here i believe we have a moral obligation to conduct a comprehensive investigation of this crisis. and let's be clear, this is a crisis. we need to determine how children in the united states of america in the year of 2016 have been exposed to drinking water suppose e poisoned with lead. and not by accident. by the actions of their own government i ask every member of this committee to take a moment
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and imagine what your reaction would be if this happened in your district instead of flint. ask yourselves, would i tolerate it? of course you wouldn't. you would demand answers. you would demand that we examine the actions of everyone and when i say everyone, i mean everyone. you would hear testimony from everyone involved and you would obtain documents from everyone involved. the problem is that today we are missing the most critical witness of all -- the governor of the state of michigan, rick snyder. he is not here. governor snyder was the driving force behind michigan's emergency manager law which he signed in 2011 and invoked to take over the city of flint from
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its local elected leaders. the governor hand picked appointees to run the city and they decided to use water from the flint river. he also led the michigan department of environmental quality which failed to protect the people of flint. according to the governor's een task force charged with investigating this crisis obviously governor snoizer should have to answer for his decisions. we ask the chairman to invite him today but he would not: we asked the chairman to give us a date in the future for a hearing with governor snyder but he would not. with asked the chairman to send the same kind of document request to governor snyder that he sent to the epa but he would
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not do that, either. we want answers from everybody. from the epa straight on down to the local officials. that's the way we get to the bottom of this crisis. the problem with this approach is that it undermains the credibility of congress, our committee and this investigation. that is totally unacceptable to the people of flint. it should be totally unacceptable to the people of this congress and totally unacceptable to the people of the united states of america. as i said before, we are the last line of defense. certainly we want to hear from the epa. i want to hear from the epa. based on what i have seen, the epa officials should have moved much more aggressively after they detected their heightened levels of lead. but states are the primary
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enforcement agencies for the safe drinking water act, not the epa. the chairman argues that we should let the state continue its own investigation. but i disagree. the state has failed the people of flint. now it's up to us, all of us. and let me be clear. if we act selectively for political reasons then we become a part of the problem. the information has been brought to us and we now have a duty to investigate all aspects of the crisis. we simply do not have the right to remain silent. we do not have the right not to act government broke it, government must fix it. and so today every democrat on the committee has joined together to sign this letter to the chairman. it invokes our right under the
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house rules to demand a hearing with witnesses of our choosing. in this letter we officially request testimony from governor snyder and the three key emergency managers that he appointed to govern flint. edward curse, jerry ambrose and darnell early. i ask our letter be inserted into the official hearing record, mr. chairman. >> without objection so order. >> i ask that it be inserted into the official hearing record and our ultimate goal must be to serve the interest of the children and the families of flint. and so we do not know the full extent of the damage that was caused but we know it is grave. today the committee received a letter from the american academy of pediatrics. the letter warned that thousands of children under the age of six have now been potentially
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exposed to lead through the flint drinking water. the letter says this -- "as you know, the city of flint has long been an impoverished community beset by a host of economic and infrastructure hardships. this adversity coupled with widespread lead exposure means that flint's children will require significant help in coping with the impact of lead on their physical and behavioral health and development, their schooling and much more." as i close, mr. chairman, it is our job here on this committee and in this congress to make sure this help is provided these to these kids. but, mr. chairman, not only to the kids but to the adults and every citizen of flint to ensure they are not forgotten after these hearings end. that is why i say this is not a
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political issue, this is a moral issue. we have to investigate what happened at all levels. including the state. and then we have to turn to accountability and reform. last but not least, mr. chairman, there's a fellow who had a song that i used to love, he never had any hits in my district but he sang a song, his name was cat stevens. and cat stevens said "oh, very young, what will you bring us this time. you're only dancing on this earth for a short time. oh, very young, what will you leave us this time?" and i've often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see. the question is what will they leave us and how we l we send them into that future? will we send them strong? will we send them hopeful? will we rob them of their destiny? will we rob them of their dreams?
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no, we will not do that. and i am proud of this committee for holding this hearing. we will get to the bottom of this and as mr. walberg says, we will do in the a bipartisan way. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. you should have applauded that. [ applause ] [ laughter ] all right, thank you. all right so we're good now. all right. thank you. and that's what i love about mr. cummings and this committee, we have passionate people on both sides who care deeply about their country and nobody, nobody wants to see this thing happen. and we're going to have a good hearing today. i hold the record open for five legislative days for any member who would like to submit a written statement. the chair also notes the presence today of former chairman of this committee mr. conyers of michigan. we would ask unanimous consent to allow him to participate in today's hearing.
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without objection, so ordered. we're also pleased to note the presence of congressman morgan griffith of virginia, appreciate him joining us today and ask unanimous consent he, too, be allowed to join this panel. without objection so ordered. we now -- we will have two panels today. it has been the practice of the house and common courtesy to our colleagues in a situation like this to allow a member who represent this is district, mr. dan kildee who represents the fifth district of michigan, which includes the city of flint, we have asked him to participate today to give his perspective and will recognize >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and allowing me to make some comments on what's happening in my hometown and to the ranking member, mr. cummings, thank you for your support and guidance
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and allegiance to the city of the people of flint and my colleague congresswoman lawrence with whom i've worked on this from the beginning. thanks for having my back and the back of the people of the city of flint. i know we have the heroes of this story on the panel that i'm anxious to listen to but flint is my hometown. i grew up in flint. i raised my children in flint. when we leave here at the end of every week i fly home to flint. i'm a son of this town. and so it breaks my heart to see what's happening. it breaks my heart not just because of what has been inflicted upon the people of flint but because it was an entirely avoidable set of circumstances. better action by people in government could have protected of people of flint and those players field and appreciate the
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outrage that members of congress and my colleagues have expressed. but my hope is that outrage translates into something more than just sharing the misery of the people of flint or sympathy for the people of flint we need to provide help for the folks in flint. flint is a strong community. we have been through really tough times. we'll get through this, too, but we have to have resources from the people who did this to flint in order to create a path forward for the people and especially for the children of my hometown. right now the water is still not yet safe to drink in flint high levels of lead continue to show up in testing. the reason i'm here and wanted to make comments is that i want to make sure that as this committee pursues its
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responsibility that we focus on the facts of this case and make sure those guide the conclusions that we make. it was mentioned in flint we have had an emergency manager. that's not just a small anecdote here. emergency managers in michigan have absolute authority over local governments. so when we talk about failure of government at every level, let's be clear about one point, one very important point. every decision that was made for the city of flint that related to this crisis was made by a state-appointed emergency manager so when referring to local decisions there are some who are trying to obfuscate responsibility for this crisis by saying these were local decisions. they were local decisions made by a state emergency manager. the mayor of the city has no
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authority. the city council in flint zero authori authority. that's an important point. making matters worse. the reason an emergency manager was required in flint in the first place is because of big factors over time, the loss of our manufacturing base, but at the same time the state of michigan cut an essential element of city resources. it cut the money that goes to support cities from its budget. the city has a $50 million general fund. over the last decade $50 million of direct revenue sharing from the state to the city was eliminated. throwing the city into a financial crisis precipitating the appointment by the state of an emergency manager to take over the city. the state that helped take over is sent in to take it over to get it right. it was the state emergency manager that made the decision
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to switch the city of flint to the city of flint water source and it was the city manager who had 100% control of all departments of city government including the department responsible for making sure the water was properly treated and that emergency manager failed. let me show you one exhibit so you have an understand aing. this is the order by the emergency manager to switch to the flint river. and, again, there's a public relations campaign under way right now to try to say these were local decisions or no it was the epa to deflect responsibility from the state of michigan. this was a decision by an emergency manager in flint to go to the flint river water source. it's a critical decision that was made that precipitated this entire crisis.
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after that switch was made, citizens began to speak up. leanne walters is on the next panel. she is one of the heroes of this story. let me be clear, the heroes are those who brought it to light. and they're not public officials. they're people who would not be quiet. leanne walters is one of them and you will hear from her. she went to the deq -- ultimately had to go to the epa as the chairman had indicated to raise this question. what was the response of the michigan department of environmental quality when these issues were raised? to discredit the voices calling their attention to this problem. whether it was dr. mark edwards from virginia tech who you will hear from, the state of michigan tried to discredit his research, a guy who spent, really, his career on clean water. tried to discredit the citizens as if they were just unhappy citizens. they had lead in their water
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that was going to their children. again, there's an effort to try to create some false equivalency of responsibility. i'm critical of the epa in this case, don't get me wrong i have legislation that hopefully will be bipartisan taken up soon that would require much greater transparency by the epa. i wish that as soon as the epa discovered there were problems with the water in flint that they would shout it from the mountain top. instead they kept insisting the department of environmental quality do its job, which ill fated to do. one of the questions that has come up is why didn't the epa insist that the michigan department of environmental quality require the corrosion control to be used in flint. well, there's a document that i
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have in my hand which i am submitting to you. it's a memo from the michigan department of environmental quality to the department the epa, this is dated february 27 of 2015, almost a year ago indicating that flint has an optimized corrosion control program. they did not. so to hold the epa accountable, i want to hold them accountable for transparency but let's make sure we get the facts right. it was the michigan environment of departmental quality telling the epa they had this thing under control. that they were using corrosion control in flint when they were not. i would have preferred the epa let me know, let the community know they had this data and let us force the deq to do its job, they didn't and that's their failure. but it is not their failure to not insist a corrosion control
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process be implemented. they continued to ask and they were told it was under control when it was not. so when this all became public, another one of the heroes of this story, dr. mona hanna-attisha, she began to look at blood levels in children. and it showed elevated blood lead levels in children in flint. she released her data and what was the response of the state of michigan? to try to discredit this pediatrician who has devoted her entire life to the health of children, just trying to do her job for the kids of flint. there was a continuous effort to try to minimize this problem as if it did not exist. there's a lot of questions about who knew what and when and that's really an important part of this. we have an e-mail from the chief of staff of the born's office
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back in july of 2015 raising this question and saying that he thought that basically the people in flint were getting blown off by the state. so they knew about this back then and failed to act. let me just conclude by saying a couple of things. i'm really concerned that we get to the facts on this. not just because i want to know who should be fired, who should be subpoenaed, who should be blamed, who should be prosecuted, justice comes in those forms, for sure. but just for the people of flint comes by making it right for the people of flint and the only way we can make it right is to make sure we know who did this and for anybody who has been paying attention to this case back home, in michigan, there's really no doubt about who's
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responsible, the state of michigan was responsible, as the ranking member said. has primacy for the enforcement of the lead and copper rule. the state of michigan was running the city of flint itself at if time these decisions were made. and the state of michigan denied to the citizens of the state and to the citizens of flint that this was a problem. at one point a state official after the lead data had already been made known to them told people in flint that they should just relax. 9,000 children of flint with water with elevated lead levels going into their bodies. is relax? yes, this is a failure of government. but this false equivalency that somehow local officials who had no power and the epa who i agree
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should have done more should be held accountable for this misses the point. this was a state failure. and you'll hear from folks today, and the current head of the michigan department of environmental quality whom i know is a good man. he was not in the position at the time these decisions were made and can't really testify to what happened then in realtime. we were there. leanne walters was there. mark edwards was there. dr. mona was there. the people of flint knew what was happening. so the state to my point of view, from my perspective has a moral responsibility not to just apologize. the governor has already apologized. in his state of the state he said he acknowledged responsibility. the way i was raised is that when you do something wrong to
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someone, something that has a consequence you do apologize for sure, but also if you have it in your power to make it right for that person, to make it right for those people, you have to stand up and do that, so far we haven't seen that. we need the pipes fixed in flint. in fact, the governor should write a check tomorrow for the $60 million that the mayor of flint has asked for to replace the lead service lines. he's sitting on a billion surplus. he should ask for that money tomorrow. and then should commit to not just fix the infrastructure, but to make it right for these kids, give them the kind of help that any child with a developmental hurdle to overcome should get -- early childhood education, good nutrition, lots of support, behavioral support, not just now or next year but for the entire trajectory of their developmental cycle. this is a tragedy. it can not be fixed.
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but those who did this to flint can stand up and make it right and i would ask this committee to do everything within your power to find the facts and if you do, and if you let those facts lead you to the conclusion that they should we will find that the state of michigan bears the responsibility to the greatest extent and they should be held to account but they also should be held to make it right. with that, mr. chairman, appreciate the opportunity to speak and i yield back, thank you. >> thank you for your participation and passion. those documents you referred to will be entered into the record what we will do now is recess for approximately four minutes. don't go anywhere. the clerks need to reset for panel number two and we will go from there. the committee stands in recess.
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we now have our -- the committee will come to order. the committee will now recognize the second panel. pleased to welcome mr. joel bouvit, the office of water at the united states environmental protection agency. mr. keith cray is the director of the department of environmental quality for the state of michigan. mr. mark edwards, the charles p lunceford professor of environmental and water resources engineering at the virginia poll polytechnic institute and ms. leanne walters, a resident and parent from michigan. we welcome you all and thank you for your participation today. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses will be sworn before they testify. if you will please rise and raise your right hand.
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do you solemnly swear or affirm the testimony you give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. in order to allow time for further discussion and questioning by member, we would appreciate your limiting your opening comments to no more than five minutes. and your entire commission will be -- entire written statement will be made part of the record mr. bevay, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member cummings, distinguished members of the committee. my name is joel beauvais and i serve as deputy assistant administrator of epa's office of water. thank you for the opportunity to testify about epa's response to the drinking water crisis in flint, michigan. i spent the day yesterday in flint with administrator mccarthy and members of epa's
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response team on the ground. we met with mayor weaver, dr. hannah-attisha and other community leaders and members. the situation in flint is critical and demands urgent and sustained action at all levels of government to protect the public and help the city recover. epa is intensely engaged in work to restore safe drinking water in flint in coordination with the broader federal response effort. what happened in flint was avoidable and should never have happened. under the safe drinking water act, congress directed epa to set national standards but assigned primary responsibility to the states to implement and enforce the law. epa maintains federal oversight of state programs. that system, while imperfect, has achieved major gains in drinking water safety nationwide. the situation that gave rise to the current crisis in flint of a large public water stm switching from purchasing treated water to
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using an untreated water source is highly unusual. under federal regulations, the city was required to obtain prior approval from the switch from the michigan department of environmental quality. mdeq advised the city of flint that corrosion control treatment was not necessary. failure to implement such treatment resulted in leeching of lead into the city's drinking water. epa regional staff encouraged them to take action in corrosion control but encountered resistance. delays in informing the public and treating the water have had serious health consequences. all parties involved need to take steps to understand how this happened and to ensure it never happens again. several have views and investigations, including a u.s. department of justice investigation are under way in michigan. administrator mccarthy has asked
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epa's inspector general to undertaken a independent review of epa's response and its oversight of mdeq. epa looks forward to receiving and acting promptly upon the results of that review. administrator mccarthy issues an agency-wide elevation policy directing epa's leadership to encourage prompt and decisive action to address critical public health concerns. further, we are committed to engaging with state, system operators and other stakeholders to identify and address lessons from hunt from and other potential drinking water risks. epa is working hard to address the public health energy in flint. since last october, our flint safe drinking water task force has provided by technical assistance to the city and mdeq on corrosion control treatment and proper lead testing. in november, epa announced we are conducting an audit of mdeq's drinking water program to assess its performance and identify changes. on january 21, epa issued an
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emergency order under the safe drinking water act directing the state so michigan, mdeq and the city of flint to take actions necessary to ensure corrosion control is reoptimized and that the city establishes the capacity to operate its drinking water system in compliance with the law. following president obama's emergency declaration in january, the administration has deployed a multiagency response effort in flint. epa has established a significant presence on the ground, including scientists, walter quality expert, response personnel and community engagement coordinators, in addition to providie ining tech assistance through our task force, epa has launched a multipronged drinking water assessment to restore flint's system. we are sharing information with the public in a transparent and timely way and will continue to work with the city, state and community to get flint's system back on track. in addition to our work in flint, epa is committed to strengthening the led and copper rule which covers approximately
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68,000 systems nationwide. we are working on revisions to the rule. las test, we received extensive recommendations from our national drinking water advise soish council and other stakeholders. we will consider this imput and the national experience in implementing the rule including developments in flint as we develop improvements. in the nearer terms, we will work with state and other stakeholders to strengthen impolice station of the existing rule. thank you for the opportunity to testify. >> thank you, mr. cray, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman chaffetz, ranking members of the committee on oversight government reform. thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss the flint water crisis. many i name is keith cray. since january 4, 2016 i have served as director of michigan department of environmental quality. i want to apologize to the
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residents of flint. we must fully investigate what happened in order make sure it will never happen again. in addition, and most urgently, we must fix the problem for the people of flint. this is a complex issue due in part to the multiple levels of government oversight. the city of flint is responsible for daily operations of the water plant and the description system inkbluding identifying sampling locations, collecting samples and certifying samples meet the criteria of the lead and copper rule. nymy is responsible for ensuring compliance with the safe drinking water act. the u.s. epa sets national drinking water standards, provides oversight to make sure those standards are met and audits the state programs. in flint, the implementation of the federal lead and copper rule was ineffective in protecting public health. when the first round of sampling came back at six parts per billion in january, 2015, corrosion treatment was not implemented regardless of the testing schedule allowed by epa rule, in hindsight when the lead
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levels began to rise, corrosion treatment should have been required by the department of environmental quality. as the michigan auditor general pointed out, the mdeq's office of drinking water and municipal assistance relied only technical compliance instead of ensuring safe drinking water. the lead and copper rule would have allowed 24 months to begin these treatments. it's become clear the federal lead and copper vul inadequate to protect the public from exposure to lead especially in communities with aging infrastructure such as flint. i'm confident the many reviews of this situation from the u.s. department of justice to the into agency team to the michigan attorney general will address in-depth the policy and decision making corrections needed to ensure that government at all levels can provide safe clean drinking water to citizens. while we could spend the whole morning trying to assign blame, i'd first like to acknowledge the unwaivering advocacy of leanne walters, epa's miguel del
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toro, dr. mark edwards, and dr. mona-hanna attisha in bringing this problem to light and i would like to spend a few minutes in coordinating the state response that have been undertaken to fix this problem. the state has been working hard to develop effective and responsive steps to address issues related to the drinking water in flint. on october 7, governor rick snyder announced a ten-step plan to address the flint water emergency. on january 5, the state emergency operations center was activated. since then we have handed out approximately 100,000 water filters, 234 cases of bottled water, 32,000 water testing sampling kits. i also want to highlight the state's five-prong sampling plan that addresses the short term and long-term needs of flint. this approach includes the following -- access to water sampling for all residents. although this is not a scientific sampling pool, initial results have shown lead levels in water with 93% of sampling of homes below the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. testing of additional schools,
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day cares and nursing homes is under way. assessment of food establishments through the michigan department of agriculture and rural development is occurring. home screening and additional follow-up for children with elevated lead levels in their blood are being coordinated by the michigan department of health and human services and identification of sentinel sites are allowing for testing of water in conjunction of w the epa and the city. the state will achieve these deliverables identified in the epa order sent on january 21. while we appreciate the dialogue that has occurred, consultation with the state would have provided by clarity to the many issues the state was already under way in addressing. indeed, it's puzzling the order was issued so long after the state response began and without mentioning the steps already under way. to be successful, we, the state, need to have high-performing
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trust-based partnership with the epa, the city of flint and other agencies at the local and county levels. appreciate the relationships that have been established between myself, mayor weaver, and interim epa regional administrator bob kaplan through our weekly calls and meetings. we know the task ahead is important, as is the restoration of the public's trust. governor snyder is committed to providing resources necessary to provide solutions. i look to our congressional federal partners to also provide leadership on federal resources that can be leveraged to address the problems related to the flint water crisis. we whethill not rest until this problem is solved and the people of flint are ensured they have water that is safe for them and their families. i thank you again for the opportunity to come before you today and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you. mr. edwards, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, this is the third
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time, unfortunately, that i've testified before congress about deficiencies in the epa lead and copper rule and i see my good friend eleanor holmes norton up there and i wish i didn't know you so well because when we met on this in 2004, we talked about the deficiencies at epa, the loopholes in the regulation and all of what we could have learned from washington, d.c. was derailed and frankly the only thing we learned in washington, d.c. was that these agencies paid to protect from lead in drinking water can get away with anything. so i am really begging you to do what we didn't do the last two times i appeared before the committee which is to fix the epa lead and copper rule and to fix the u.s. epa. the agencies involved in protecting children from lead in drinking water in this country,
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including the u.s. centers for disease control, the epa, primacy agencies and the water utilities have proven themselves time and time again unworthy of the public trust. they can not be trusted to fix this problem they've repeatedly engaged in scientific misconduct and in the written testimony i submitted to the committee i outline over the last ten years five examples of falsified reports from these agencies that have conclusions directly endangering children in this country that have caused children to be lead poisoned and they refused to correct the scientific record even in the case of an epa report that they now acknowledge has no data. no data after nine years. i've tried to get this report corrected. they refuse to retract this
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report. they their callous disregard for the most vulnerable amongst us is really played out most recently in flint, michigan. and residents there have been living a surreal experience. it's part "1984," part "enemy of the people." and i am personally ashamed that the profession i belong to, the drinking water industry in this country has allowed this to occur. so in closing i really am just begging you, please, please, these agencies -- do what these agencies have refused to do. protect kids in this country from lead in drinking water and let's make them live up to their noble mission and once again be worthy of the public trust. with that i'll yield my time to
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leanne. >> the gentleman is -- yields back. ms. walters, you're recognized for five minutes. >> my home used to be a place of comfort and safety for my family. it used to be what a home should be -- a place of peace and protection from the outside world. that was taken from us and not just from my family but from every home and every citizen in flint. now my home is known as ground zero. the people in flint now stand with the people in d.c. who suffered their own lead crisis a decade ago because we know now the horror of poison running through our taps and the negligence of the agencies paid to protect us. in 2014, in a city with no democracy forced under an emergency manager hand picked by governor snyder a decision was made to switch the water source without the proper testing and enforcement of regulation. the mdeq claims they misinterpreted federal law regarding corrosion control. they were allowed to tell epa they were following the law without any verifications.
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the citizens in flint were assured for 18 months that the water was safe. my home was being tested because of the discoloration of my water and the health issues my family was experiencing. we fought the city and the state saying wrong and we were dismissed. i decided we need to get to the science if anyone was ever going to believe us. i started researching and educating myself about water. i had three tests done by the city of flint using extra steps that tend to minimize lead in water. those numbers were 104 parts per billion, 307 parts per billion. and i started working with the epa. mr. del toro was very thorough and knowledgeable in assisting me. i told mr. del toro i did not believe there was corrosion control in the water, provided him documentation about this fact and he verified my findings and he was furious. mr. del toro questioned the mdeq
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and at first they lied and then later admitted the truth. i figured out that ms. kroojs was aiding the mdeq with her lies and mr. del toro was the only one willing to address the problem. i requested a copy of mr. del toro's report and i made it public because people had a right to know. with the report public, susan hedman, epa, apologized to the mayor of flint and to the mdeq because of policy. no one but mr. del toro was willing to do their job. mr. del toro was told by the ethics attorney to forward all media requests including those during his personal time. he was also advised not to talk about flint or to anyone from flint. in a meeting i had with mdeq leanne schechter smith bragged to me about how mr. del toro had been handled, that his report was flawed and that there would be no final report. this was the ultimate betrayal for the citizens.
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susan hedman cared more about policy than the welfare of an entire community while punishing and silencing the one person who was willing to help us. i started doing independent testing with virginia tech, and 30 tests were done. tests that were perform in accordance to the lcr. my average was 2,500 parts per billion. the highest was 1350 parts per billion. hazardous waste is 5,000. the city and the mdeq still continued to tell everyone the water was safe as the epa sat by and watched in silence. because the state and federal governments failed us with the help of virginia tech we conducted citizen based samplings. we distributed 300 samples throughout the city and we collected back 277 samples. here are the facts after the tragedy in d.c. from 2001 to
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2006 where children were poisoned by lead in water, had the epa closed the loopholes, then it could have 100% prevented what just took place in flint. epa has failed to protect people by refusing to ban partial lead service line replacements. the national report from 2006 states that the lack of system response for lead exceedence is to inform the public. it is done less than one-third of the time. from my research i have found this is not a flint problem or a rare anomaly. this is a national problem. only ten states test accurately according to the lcr. 21 states do not reveal their sampling instructions and 19 states have testing similar to loopholes to the michigan ones. there's no justifiable reason testing for loopholes except to hide lead. the loopholes need to be eliminated are preflush, small mouth bottles and cap on stagnation.
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i spoke against the recommendations that are now currently under advisement by the epa to change the lc rich. they will weaken an already broken system and i'm outraged that the epa continues to allow this dishonestly in testing to continue nationally. the citizens of flint are relying on each you because we have no choice. there are people in flint today still not being assisted during this crisis. illegal immigrant, disabled and shut-ins. broken policy and procedures are smothering the outcry of an entire community suffering, financially, physically, mentally and emotionally. i urge you to help restore some of the trust lost and protect all the citizens in the united states by never allowing this to happen again. we need this to happen now. not ten years from now. thank you. >> thank you. again, thank you for the testimony. we'll now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr.
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wahlberg, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thanks to the panel. you are -- you are a good panel to have in front of us to start this investigation here at this level. mr. bouvet, in his testimony director cray noted an e-mail from the epa to mdeq. in response to the release of miguel del toro's june 24th, 2015, memo stating, and this is the epa e-mail that i quote from. quote, i want to remind you that miguel's report had deq cc'd so if the legislature or whoever might say you were all cc'd you can truthfully respond that it was epa's request that the report not be sent to the ccs. consequently, you all never received the report from miguel. who sent that e-mail, and why would the epa tell mdeq that
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they never received a request -- a report which identified the lack of corrosive controls in place? >> my understanding is that the e-mail to which you're referring was from a staffer in region five named jennifer crooks. i have seen the e-mail. i do not know why that e-mail was sent. >> is there -- has there been a check to see why the e-mail was sent from anybody? >> we are looking in to that and the administrator has asked the inspector general to undertake an evaluation and assessment and independent review of what happened here and we need to get to the bottom of that and all of the other facts here. >> was miguel del toro punished for releasing this interim memo. >> i'm not aware of any punishment of mr. del toro. mr. del toro is a valued member of the epa's team. he's a nationally recognized expert in this area. >> not listened to. >> mr. del toro has spoken to the media, i believe he's also
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briefed the staff of this committee and i'm not aware of -- >> mr. edwards, do you believe mr. del toro was punished by the epa? >> not in writing. >> microphone. >> not in writing, but the way epa operates in general is that people who are causing trouble by doing their job are simply not allowed to do their job. they are silenced as mr. del toro was. he was told, as leanne said, by the ethics officer at epa, not to speak to anyone from flint or about flint. he told me that himself before he was unable to talk to me anymore. >> mr. edwards or dr. edwards, do you believe the epa is aware of local municipalities that are not following the testing requirement under the lead and copper rule? >> yes. i think that epa in general cast a blind eye on these
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municipalities who are not following -- >> even beyond flint. >> yes, absolutely. >> a blind eye? >> well, for example, in durham, north carolina, in 2008 children were lead poisoned as a result of a sampling protocol where you remove the aerator the night before sampling, clean the lead out, so when you measure the next day, the lead in water looks lower than it normally is. epa wrote a memo that essentially banned that protocol. but they know, as we speak today, water utilities still use that protocol, even after it was banned and caused lead poisoning of children in durham. it's extremely frustrating. >> their response, would you conclude, is because of a lack of clarity in the federal regulations, or lack of enforcement or both? >> in a written letter i wrote to epa office of water, i said point-blank that the only thing i can conclude is that they
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don't care about children lead poisoned from drinking water. >> why do you think the epa has this problem? i mean, that's pretty strong statement and i guess we'll look for further testimony. but why does epa have this problem? >> you would have to ask them why they refuse to do the job they're paid to do. >> do you believe they're violating the law? >> i believe that they're not enforcing the law. they're not enforcing their own policies, and they've created this environment in which basically anything goes. >> and this has manifested itself very clearly in flint? >> yes, it most obviously in flint due to the unique circumstances. the miracle of outsiders in spite of the system showing that this problem occurred. had it not been for people completely outside the system, those children in flint would still be drinking that water to this day. that is a fact.
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>> having more questions but seeing my time has expired, i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. i remind the committee that we had a hearing here in july about region five, about susan hedman. we had three whistle-blowers saying that people were being retaliated against for bringing complaints before -- before that region. and it's so frustrating that that was not dealt with when it was brought up. it should have never happened in the first place, and it obviously continued because she just retired on monday. yes. >> very briefly, mr. chairman, back on that hearing in your regard in a bipartisan way we made it clear that we would not tolerate retaliation, nobody on these panels, either side would tolerate that. and it's been our policy, and so i think as we look at these depositions that the chairman is


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