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FLINT, MI — Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) visited Flint on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 21 to get a firsthand look at the city’s ongoing water crisis.
Congressman Kennedy, the great nephew of President John F. Kennedy, was hosted in Flint by Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05). The two took a walking tour of the Flint Farmers’ Market before hosting a brief media availability.
“Joe Kennedy from Massachusetts, one of my colleagues and my classmate (we came into Congress together), was immediately helpful when I needed help in Washington to get the aid package that we passed through Congress for $170 million; it wouldn’t have happened just by my advocacy,” Kildee said. “Having somebody who understands the challenges of these places and who was willing to basically put his name behind it made a big difference.”
Both congressmen discussed the Double Up Food Program with the media in attendance.
“One of the reasons we came here at the Farmers’ Market is because we know that eating fresh fruits and vegetables and having a good diet is one of the ways to overcome lead exposure, particularly for kids whose brain development could be affected by this horrible tragedy,” said Kildee. “I have legislation that would expand and make permanent a program that we have that’s called the Double Up Food Bucks program, which says that if you spend a dollar of your S.N.A.P. benefits, you get two dollars of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a way to make sure that Flint families have access to affordable, nutritious food that’s not only good for them in the long term for a lot of reasons, but that will also help us get through this lead crisis.”
“Programs like the Double Up Food Bucks I think are an innovative way of trying to address some of these concerns by leveraging the prospects of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Kennedy said.
Asked about his thoughts on the recovery efforts in the city, Kennedy said that he feels there is a long way to go.
“Dan has been such a stalwart advocate for the people of Flint during his time in office, both before and during the water crisis, and is focusing not just on the immediate response but a long-term response as well,” said Kennedy. “There’s several different phases to this, from an immediate triaging to the infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to that long-term effort that clearly Congressman Kildee has been focused on. Part of that long-term effort obviously means the long-term revitalization of these communities. That’s not just a one-off thing, that’s not going to be solved in one piece of legislation, but it is where people like Congressman Kildee brings his expertise to Congress to try to get members from both parties to really think about how we can leverage the power of the federal government to make sure that we’re not in a circumstance like this in another city sometime down the road.”
Kennedy gained a wide following on social media after making fiery remarks in Mar. 2017 condemning the GOP’s healthcare plan, a topic which he remarked on during the press gaggle.
“If you look at the details of what Republicans have voted on and passed through the Senate, the effects of that are absolutely devastating – cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which, by the way, are essential to communities like Flint while they try to respond to crises like the water crisis,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy’s father lived in Flint, and at one time was presented with a key to the city.
Kildee has previously hosted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn in Flint.