The reality of how numbers need to be squared and lowered so as to gain passage of a smaller reconciliation bill is prompting new scrutiny for policies that truly do require funding. One of the bottom lines in the congressional discussions must be lead pipe mediation.
Today I ran across a figure that underscores the contention among many that lead pipes must be remedied in this nation. Two-thirds of Arkansas children under age 6 had detectable lead levels in their blood. That was a finding in a new study from JAMA Pediatrics.
That is not acceptable. No way. No how.
While one can make a very strong argument showing that the Arkansas government has not acted with resolve to address this issue or tax their residents so as to have the funds to install new pipes it also goes without saying children should not be held hostage to conservative politicians.
The data shows that children from communities with pre-1950s housing or high poverty rates are most impacted. Science shows that a blood lead concentration as low as five micrograms per deciliter can affect the long-term cognitive development of children. That can then lead to lifelong learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Those then are costs that are often left to governments to address, and taxpayers to fund.
So once again, it is imperative to address the problems on the front side as the preventive route is always cheaper and more appropriate than picking up the pieces later.
It has been troubling to see some members of Congress pretend that federal resolve must not be used to address issues such as lead pipe mediation. Senator Joe Manchin should be front and center as his poor state has an estimated 20,000 citizens who have lead service lines throughout West Virginia.
The Senate has passed–and correctly so– a much-needed bipartisan infrastructure package that would allocate $1.5 billion to replace lead service lines. Democrats hope to pass a budget reconciliation bill with even more funds to meet the need.
The problem is, of course not just in states with lower economic stats, but also in places Wisconsin.
The City of Racine had just under 11,000 lead pipe service lines delivering water to its nearly 80,000 residents in July, when the city announced it had received a $1.6 million grant through the state’s Safe Drinking Water Loans program.
A 2015 report by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported statewide tests on children showed the percentage with elevated blood lead levels was 4.6%. That same report found the percentage in the jurisdiction of the City of Racine Public Health Department was 9% for 1-year-olds and 10.2% for 2-year-olds.
Many will argue we can not do everything now that needs to be accomplished. That is true. But we can do what must be done to protect children who rely on adults to make sound decisions.
And so it goes.