Sen. Nelson: Flint aid bill rigged, revokes support

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is blocking a bill that would send money to help Flint, Michigan with its water crisis.

The bill to help the city seemed to be on the brink of passing in the United States Senate but on Wednesday Sen. Nelson revoked his support.

The senator said his decision was in response to a Lousiana Sen. Bill Cassidy’s amendment, which proposes incentives for offshore drilling in Gulf Coast states. That amendment stands against his principles, Sen. Nelson said.

“For 40 years, I’ve fought to keep oil rigs off of Florida’s coast,” he said. “I will not let that happen.”

One Lee County residents said they want to see help get to Flint but the oil rig amendment tarnishes the bill’s intent.

“I feel that whenever there’s a good bill out there, the Senate always tacks on something else,” one woman said.

Another man added: “I think they should just have a clean bill, a clean simple bill just to help the people of Flint.”

Rep. Curt Clawson said in a written statement that he agrees with Nelson’s sentiments.

“The eco-crisis in Flint is an enormous human tragedy that will be with us for a long time and therefore deserves the best efforts of Congress,” he said. “It is not the time to turn this tragedy into a political food fight on drilling in the Gulf, which I oppose.”

The senator has the support of the Lee County Republican Party Chair Jonathan Martin, who said Nelson’s concern is bipartisan.

“Obviously, Bill Nelson is concerned with our beaches just like anybody here in the state of Florida — Republican or Democrat,” Martin said.

If the bill is not passed before the spring Senate recess begins on March 1, senators will have to consider other ways to assist Flint.

Allowing oil rigs closer to Florida’s coa st could create 85,000 new jobs and pump more than $6 billion into the state’s economy, according to estimates from the American Petroleum Institute.

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