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Senators Strike Funding Deal To Help Flint Replace Poisonous Pipes

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 24/02/2016 Laura Barron-Lopez
ATHENA IMAGE © Bill Clark via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- Senators reached a deal Wednesday to make money available to cities like Flint, Michigan, which desperately needs to replace lead pipes that have potentially poisoned thousands.

After weeks of negotiations, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he and Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D) and Gary Peters (D) had reached an agreement on how to pay for the money that will be made available to not only Flint but also other cities that have crumbling water infrastructure.

The measure was fast-tracked on Wednesday, setting up a possible vote as early as next week to redirect $250 million from the Energy Department's Advanced Vehicle Technology Fund. While it doesn't send money directly to Flint, the city will be able to apply for a loan to receive a chunk of the money. 

"This does what we need," Stabenow said, adding that the language of the agreement is still being sent back and forth for potential final tweaks. 

Inhofe said the measure would be voted on as a standalone bill. 

Stabenow and Peters confirmed they supported the offset, despite having opposed it just weeks earlier. 

"That's the important aspect of it is that other communities all around the country will be able to access resources that are part of this -- dealing with not just lead but other toxic contaminants as well," Peters said.

"This does what we need," Stabenow added. 

Asked what changed their mind, Stabenow said the structuring was "responsible and positive."

Inhofe said "time" and urgency brought the two Michigan Democrats around. 

All expected the agreement to get broad bipartisan support from both parties.

The deal unlocks a hold on the broad energy bill, which was derailed this month over the Flint negotiations. 

Here's a breakdown of the funds:

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