Trump administration pledges to ‘do what is necessary’ to help Newark address its water crisis

Posted Sep 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration stands ready to “do what is necessary” as the city of Newark tries to get the lead out of its water.

“I will commit to doing anything that we possibly can do to alleviate the problem there, and if that involves a specific person or a dozen specific people, we will do what is necessary,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Tuesday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

Carson responded to a question from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the housing subcommittee.

“Would you commit, as we did in Flint, to have a person, who is designated for Newark and the surrounding communities that are affected by this, to assist them?" asked Menendez, D-N.J.

Menendez said that HUD assigned a full-time staffer in Flint to help residents and work with federal, state and local officials to provide assistance.

He also said that municipalities can ask HUD to let them use their community development block grant funds to address lead contamination in homes. President Donald Trump, though, has sought to eliminate those funds.

New Jersey lawmakers also have asked the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture for assistance. Newark city officials have been handing out bottled water since unhealthy amounts of lead were found in two of three tested homes despite the use of filters.

The Senate on Monday passed legislation sponsored by Menendez and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to let the state transfer up to $100 million from their federal clean water fund to help replace the lead pipes that have contaminated Newark’s drinking water. Those funds can be used to help fund the city’s $132 million project to replace the water lines.

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