Source: United States Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) wrote to several Trump Administration cabinet officials requesting an update by August 9th on the President’s interagency task force on lead exposure and asking them to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the risk of childhood lead poisoning. In October 2017, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they were developing a new federal strategy to reduce childhood lead exposure and subsequently told reporters it would be finalized by June 2018. However, the administration has yet to announce its findings even though families and children across the country remain at risk for lead exposure.
“We are concerned that the Administration is not prioritizing this Federal strategy, and we request a status update on your efforts, including your expected release date for any publication,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “Families and children remain at risk for lead exposure, and it is unclear when the Administration intends to release its strategy. This should be a top priority across your agencies. The Administration should uphold its promise for an aggressive timeline and move forward with its comprehensive strategy.”
Senator Brown has long fought to prevent childhood lead poisoning. Earlier this year, Brown joined several of his colleagues in introducing a plan that would remediate hazards caused by deteriorating lead paint in older homes. Brown has led efforts to protect Ohio children from lead exposure, increase lead testing rates for at-risk children, and worked to boost funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for monitoring and remediation. Brown was instrumental in strengthening the Hardest Hit Fund, which has provided communities funding to prevent foreclosure and demolish blighted properties and getting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue guidance on testing for lead in children. Brown has also advocated for funding to preserve and create affordable housing and worked to strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
Senator Duckworth has been outspoken about the need to reduce exposure to lead poisoning and has introduced several pieces of legislation to address lead in America’s drinking water. She has introduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act, along with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), which would ensure periodic testing for lead contamination in schools while also providing schools with additional resources to monitor lead levels and replace outdated water infrastructure systems. Duckworth has also introduced the National Opportunity for Lead Exposure Accountability and Deterrence (NO LEAD) Act of 2017 to protect clean drinking water by helping guide the EPA review of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to make lead testing reports more comprehensive and ensure reports are easily available to the public – and last month, she joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and 9 of their colleagues in introducing the Containment and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act, which would authorize more than $1 billion in federal funding to help small and disadvantaged communities replace contaminated water infrastructure to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
A copy of the letter can be found below and HERE:
Dear Secretary Carson, Acting Administrator Wheeler, and Secretary Azar:
We are writing in regards to the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force) and its development of a new Federal Strategy to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts (Federal strategy). We are concerned that the Administration is not prioritizing this Federal strategy, and we request a status update on your efforts, including your expected release date for any publication.
In October 2017, the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published a Request for Information seeking public comment on a new Federal lead strategy. That comment period closed in November 2017. In February 2018, E&E news published a report documenting a “high-level war on lead summit,” that suggested the Task Force planned to finalize its strategy by June 2018. In addition, a February 16, 2018 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release stated that Task Force officials had committed to “Set an aggressive, near-term timeline for the Task Force to complete its work to draft the strategy.”
Unfortunately, those are all the status updates we have. Families and children remain at risk for lead exposure, and it is unclear when the Administration intends to release its strategy. This should be a top priority across your agencies. Any comprehensive strategy should outline new initiatives to eliminate this scourge, a timeline for doing so, and the expected budgetary resources necessary to accomplish this goal. The Administration should uphold its promise for an aggressive timeline and move forward with its comprehensive strategy.
We request the status of your work on a Federal strategy and your expected release date for publication. We ask that you submit your response in writing by August 9, 2018
Thank you for your prompt reply to this request.
Senator Tammy Duckworth
Senator Sherrod Brown