U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings says he intends to reopen investigative hearings on the Flint water crisis when he takes the helm of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next month.
Rep. Cummings (D-Maryland) has indicated he plans to put outgoing Michigan Governor Rick Snyder back in the hot seat to clarify the extent of his knowledge of the Flint water crisis and an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in the city after state officials changed its water supply from Detroit’s water system to the heavily contaminated Flint River.
Gov. Snyder told the committee in previous hearings that he “has no memory” of deleting emails relevant to the Flint water crisis, but his written responses to the committee’s questions “raise a whole new set of concerns about the accuracy” of his March 2016 testimony, The Detroit News reported.
Rep. Cummings acknowledged the work of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in prosecuting public officials for the Flint water crisis, but said questions remain “as to whether the governor was completely honest before our committee,” adding that he would “love to at some point – soon – see him come back to address the committee’s concerns.”
Former House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, closed the Committee’s Flint inquiry in December 2016 despite the objections of Rep. Cummings, who said at the time that ending the investigation was “inconceivable” and premature.
“It is very difficult for me to sleep at night with what happened and continues to happen to Flint,” Rep. Cummings told The Detroit News. “The damage that has been done to many of Flint’s children will have negative impacts on their lives until they die.”
The Flint water crisis started in 2014 when the state switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure, neglecting to properly treat the infrastructure against the threat of lead leaching. As a result, many Flint residents, including children, were found to have dangerously high levels of lead in their bodies. Fifteen officials are facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in causing the Flint Water crisis, but Gov. Snyder has enjoyed relative impunity for his alleged actions and inaction in the man-made disaster.