VP Kamala Harris Milwaukee visit, focus on lead pipe replacement

Vice President Kamala Harris came to Milwaukee on Monday, Jan. 24 – a city with 70,000 lead laterals. She touted the infrastructure law which will help pay to replace some of those pipes. The law includes funding for Wisconsin, but not enough to cover everything.

The infrastructure law includes $15 billion nationally for lead pipe removal. $48 million of that will come to Wisconsin this year, but it is estimated it will cost $800 million to replace all the lead pipes in Milwaukee alone.

The vice president made her pitch at a nonprofit, the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/Big Step – which recruits and trains people in the skilled trades like construction and plumbing. 

"What we’re excited about is that it is not only going to be about the children and making sure they drink clean water; it’s going to be about investing in the talented people in the community to build up the skills to do the work," Harris said.

Vice President Harris also talked with Milwaukee's chief medical officer.

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"Any amount of lead in the blood is too much. There is no known safe level, and unfortunately even low levels of lead in a child's blood can have lasting effects on their growth and development and behavior," said Dr. Heather Paradis, a pediatrician.

A mother, Deanna Branch, shared a story of her lead-poisoned son.

"Aidan was hospitalized not once, but twice. So, many moms are going through the same thing," Branch said.

"You put the call out and said this needs to be handled." Harris told Branch.

"I’m glad it was heard," Branch responded.

The vice president said the infrastructure law will help.

"And here in Wisconsin, as has been said $48 million will be dedicated in the year 2022. These investments will create good union jobs, these investments will address the needs of our children, these investments will result in improved public health, the creation of more jobs, the infusion of support for important mentorship programs, and it's just simply the right thing to do." Harris said. "We are long overdue to get this done. And we will get this done. And generations of Americans will forever benefit because of the work that is happening right here in Milwaukee. Thank you."

Wisconsin Republicans, who voted against the infrastructure law, are critical.

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"It’s critical we actually have a plan to pay for these programs because what this administration has done is spent trillions of dollars with no plan to pay for it. And what that actually does in the end is clobbers people in their pocketbook. So, we need to get our spending under control, so we can make targeted investments to truly make sure that no child has lead in the water," said Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wisconsin).

Reaction

RNC Spokesperson Rachel Reisner

"Wisconsinites deserve to know how the Biden administration’s plan to eliminate cash bail will keep their families safe and address the issue of rising crime rates, not listen to Kamala Harris shill Biden’s floundering agenda."

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Paul Farrow

"Kamala Harris is trying to play damage control for Joe Biden’s disastrous first year in office. If Harris spent more time addressing the border crisis, working to lower prices, or fixing the crippled supply chain and less time on photo opps, perhaps the Biden administration’s approval rating would be better than 33 percent."

Rep Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin)

"Ukraine is on the brink of disaster, crime is surging across the country, and the border remains unsecure. Vice President Harris should be working overdrive to help address these crises – not taking a victory lap."

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