Congress Probes State's Use Of Federal Funds Amid Jackson Water Crisis

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Two congressional committees are probing Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on how the nation's poorest state is spending millions of dollars from the federal government amid Jackson's ongoing water crisis, NBC News reports.

On Monday (October 17), Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent a letter to Reeves, requesting he outline how Mississippi used federal funding as Homeland Security and the Oversight and Reform committee investigate the crisis that left thousands of Jackson residents, who are predominately Black, without running water this summer.

The capital city's ongoing water issues came to head in August when days of heavy rain led to the failure of Jackson's main water treatment facility.

For years, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and other state Democrats have argued that the city's public water utility was susceptible to these types of mass shutdowns because GOP state leaders have failed to provide the necessary financial help to fix its aging water system.

Lumumba estimated that fixing Jackson's water infrastructure could cost billions of dollars after decades of neglect.

During an interview Monday, Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, expressed concern about whether federal aid given to the state is making its way to the predominately Black city.

“Mississippi is one of several states that absolutely rely on the generosity of the federal government,” Thompson said. “That means we can’t really do anything for ourself without federal help. In return, the only thing the federal government asks is that you spend those monies in a nondiscriminatory fashion.”

In their letter to Reeves, Thompson and Maloney, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee, requested details about the racial makeup and population size of communities that have received federal funds and/or are slated for funding to improve their water systems.

The pair also questioned why Jackson was the only city that the Legislature placed under additional oversight as a condition for receiving funds from a water infrastructure improvement program for local governments.

“We urge you to take action to protect the health and safety of Jackson residents and direct funding to Jackson immediately to fix this life and death issue,” Maloney and Thompson wrote in the letter.

Though Reeves hasn't directly commented on the letter, the governor shared plans to address ongoing staffing challenges at Jackson’s water treatment plants on Monday.

Reeves said on Twitter that fixing the issue is “the next step in ensuring clean water continues to be delivered to the people of Jackson.”

The representatives’ letter asks Reeves to respond by the end of the month.

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