As Trump Fails to Invest in Infrastructure, GOP Ignores Drinking Water Needs at Today's Hearing

Washington, D.C. – As President Trump continues to tout his much-criticized infrastructure “plan” – which invests almost nothing in badly needed infrastructure and demands imaginary state and local funding for projects – Republicans at today’s Water, Power and Oceans Subcommittee continued to ignore the many American communities lacking clean drinking water because of deficient or nonexistent water infrastructure. Instead, Republicans focuses their demands on more water specifically for select factory farms. The hearing revealed a disturbing pattern of Republican indifference to low income communities that have, in some cases, gone decades without reliable, clean drinking water thanks to a simple lack of funding and attention.

The hearing saw Republicans repeating stale talking points about why select farms need more water while they ignored the pressing need for drinking water infrastructure in their own communities and elsewhere. Droughts and inadequate infrastructure investment contribute to more than a million people in California alone being exposed to unsafe drinking water each year.

Newspapers across California have pointed out that a lack of water infrastructure hits poorer Americans the hardest. As a San Diego Union-Tribune August 2017 op-ed pointed out:

California affirmed the human right to safe and affordable drinking water in 2012, when it became the first state in the country to legislatively declare that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water.

But five years later, still, 300 communities and a million Californians — that’s three times the entire population of Iceland, and more than the population of Flint, Michigan — lack this basic human right, as they are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year.

Despite Republican refusal to discuss it, the need for clean drinking water infrastructure is well known across California. As Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said during his statement:

More than one million Californians every year are exposed to unsafe drinking water, in many cases because of non-existent or deficient water infrastructure. My Republican colleagues from the San Joaquin Valley should understand this issue very well, and yet, we rarely ever hear about these communities’ needs in this committee... The only time they seem to bring up these communities is unfortunately when they are convenient props to advance their agenda of rolling back environmental laws.

Indeed, Huffman pointed out that the Majority’s memo for today’s hearing, posted online, goes into detail about to need to deliver more water to farms, but never mentions the pressing need to deliver clean drinking water to the many American communities that go without it.

“Republicans see infrastructure as just another way to reward their friends and ignore everyone else,” said Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) following the hearing. “President Trump’s infrastructure plan doesn’t put real money into our communities, and even if it did, Republicans on Capitol Hill won’t spend a dime outside their political friend circle. This is what the real Republican infrastructure plan looks like: Americans suffering from a preventable lack of drinking water because the party in charge doesn’t think it’s worth their time to help them.”

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