Obama: $80M for Mich. during Flint water crisis

President Barack Obama smiles as he arrives to speak to mayors from around the country, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. They visited the White House as part of the Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington this week.

FLINT, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — President Barack Obama has announced $80 million in federal funding for Michigan as the city of Flint deals with a drinking water crisis.

“In last month’s bipartisan budget agreement, we secured additional funding to help cities like yours build water infrastructure, and we’re going to have that funding available to you by the end of next week, and that includes more than $80 million for the state of Michigan,” the president said as he announced the aid.

The White House said the administration moved to make sure the money is available to Michigan much more quickly than normal, though it is unclear how much, if any, of the money would go to Flint. States use the federal funding to make low-cost loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater construction projects and have significant freedom in how they prioritize the projects.

A spokesman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he was grateful for the federal funding to repair infrastructure but gave no immediate indication on what it specifically could mean for Flint.

“We remain focused on the people of Flint as we look for federal resources for our efforts to address immediate and long-term challenges the residents will face in a variety of areas,” Dave Murray said in a statement.

>>Inside woodtv.com: How you can help Flint residents

“Our children should not have to be worried about the water they’re drinking in American cities,” Obama said. “That’s not something that we should accept.”

He made his comments while addressing the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the White House. He met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver earlier this week to discuss the situation in her city.

In a release, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, thanked the president for his swift response to requests for federal aid.

“While the State of Michigan must take the lead in making things right for Flint families, I am committed to continuing to do everything I can to make sure the maximum amount of federal help is available as quickly as possible,” she said in a statement.

On Jan. 16, Obama declared an emergency in Flint. That made the city eligible for up to $5 million in direct federal funding with a 25 percent match from the state.

>>PDF: Timeline of events in Flint

The president declined to approve a federal disaster declaration that would help bring millions more to address the problem in Flint. The White House concluded that disaster money is intended for natural events such as fires or floods. In an appeal letter, Snyder called the decision a “narrow reading” of the law.

–Kevin Freking and David Eggert of the Associated Press contributed to this report. Freking reported from Washington and Eggert from Lansing.

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