100+ House Members Push to Fund Removal of ALL Lead Lines in U.S. Drinking Water Systems

July 21, 2021
Press Release
Lawmakers call for replacement of 10 million lead service lines in any comprehensive infrastructure bill

WASHINGTON— Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-5), Gwen Moore (D-MI-4) and Henry Cuellar (TX-28) led a group of more than 100 members in the House of Representatives today, including the entire Democratic House Illinois delegation, on a letter calling for Congressional leadership to prioritize funding to remove ALL of America’s estimated 10 million lead drinking water service lines and components currently in use as part of any major infrastructure legislation moving through the chamber.

 Many lead pipelines continue to serve schools according a GAO report that found more than 1/3 of school districts that tested for lead found elevated levels in drinking water.

“There is no safe level of lead, and the dangers are greatest for our children,” the letter reads. “Children experiencing lead exposure will likely suffer lifelong consequences. Sadly, despite the well-established dangers of lead, and numerous tragic examples showing lead service lines contaminating the water they carry, these components are still commonly found in water systems…and often disproportionately threaten low-income communities and communities of color.”

The letter continues, “The scope and gravity of this problem demands an immediate and comprehensive national response. As you continue to lead efforts to enact funding that invests in our nation’s infrastructure, we respectfully ask that $45 billion be included and fully funded to remove lead service lines.”

Schakowsky has continued to be vocal on this issue with more than 680,000 lead service lines in the state of Illinois and over 400,000 in Chicago, part of the Congresswoman’s district. Earlier this month, the House passed, and Schakowsky voted for the INVEST in America Act which included $45 billion to fully replace lead service lines – an important step to build back better.  

This letter follows recent calls for funding lead service line replacements by the Natural Resources Defense Council and United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters, and several environmental and public health organizations.

The letter was signed by the following Members of Congress: Colin Z. Allred, Cynthia Axne, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Brendan F. Boyle, Julia Brownley, Cori Bush, Cheri Bustos, Salud O. Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Sean Casten, David N. Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, Angie Craig, Henry Cuellar, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Diana DeGette, Suzan K. DelBene, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Michael F. Doyle, Adriano Espaillat, Bill Foster, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. "Chuy" García, Vincente Gonzalez, Al Green, Raúl M. Grijalva, Jahana Hayes, Brian Higgins, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Robin L. Kelly, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Derek Kilmer, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Tom Malinowski, Carolyn B. Maloney, Kathy E. Manning, Doris O. Matsui, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Joseph D. Morelle, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Marie Newman, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tom O'Halleran, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen M. Rice, Deborah K. Ross, Lucille Roybal-Allard, C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, John P. Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Bradley Scott Schneider, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, David Scott, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Elissa Slotkin, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Abigail D. Spanberger, Melanie Ann Stansbury, Haley M. Stevens, Marilyn Strickland, Thomas R. Suozzi, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, Lauren Underwood, Juan Vargas, Nydia M. Velázquez, Maxine Waters, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Susan Wild, Frederica S. Wilson

Full text of the letter:

 The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House

1236 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

Thank you for your commitment to safeguard our public health and our environment by ensuring that every community has safe, clean drinking water. We respectfully ask that funding for full replacement of all lead service lines across the country as well as substantial water infrastructure investments be included in an infrastructure agreement at the earliest opportunity.

The science is clear on this issue, and the stakes are high. There is no safe level of lead, and the dangers are greatest for our children. Children experiencing lead exposure will likely suffer lifelong consequences. Sadly, despite the well-established dangers of lead, and numerous tragic examples showing lead service lines contaminating the water they carry, these components are still commonly found in water systems. EPA has estimated that up to 10 million of these lines are currently in use. These lines are found in every state and often disproportionately threaten low-income communities and communities of color.

The scope and gravity of this problem demands an immediate and comprehensive national response. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan has called for $45 billion for lead service line replacements, and H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, which recently passed the House, authorized $45 billion over 10 years for removal of these dangerous lines. Similarly, the fact sheet that accompanied the Senate’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework stated the agreement would “eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes.” This funding must be designed to provide for full replacement of all lead lines, prioritize low-income communities, and prohibit dangerous partial replacements. Such a push to replace lead service lines, along with additional substantial water infrastructure investments, will not only safeguard our health and our environment, it will also provide family-sustaining jobs now while reducing exposure to lead for generations into the future.

We serve geographically, economically, and culturally diverse districts, but we share a sense of duty to care for and protect our constituents from preventable tragedies and known health hazards. Lead service line replacement is a top infrastructure, environmental, and equity priority and must be included in any infrastructure legislation considered for House passage. As you continue to lead efforts to enact funding that invests in our nation’s infrastructure, we respectfully ask that $45 billion be included and fully funded to remove lead service lines.

Sincerely,

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