‘Moral Imperative’: Harris Talks Lead Remediation in Milwaukee

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Milwaukee about the Biden administration's lead pipe and paint remediation efforts. (Screenshot via C-SPAN)

By Jonathon Sadowski

January 24, 2022

The bipartisan infrastructure deal is expected to make a substantial impact in efforts to replace Wisconsin’s 176,000 lead water lines.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday visited Milwaukee to highlight the Biden administration’s efforts to replace the nation’s 10 million lead water pipes that pose a serious health risk to people in Wisconsin and elsewhere who still rely on them despite the danger.

“We have [a moral imperative] to finally take this issue seriously—not as a matter of concern, but as a matter of action,” Harris said during a speech at a Milwaukee nonprofit. “And so that is what today represents. That is what the bipartisan infrastructure law represents.”

The recently passed bipartisan infrastructure deal included $15 billion for the removal of lead pipes across the country, an amount expected to make a huge difference in removing Wisconsin’s 176,000 lead pipes that still serve homes, businesses, and schools.

RELATED: Wisconsin Has 176,000 Lead Pipes. The Infrastructure Bill Will Help Take Them Out.

“You put the call out and it was heard,” said Deanna Branch, a Milwaukee mother who said her son was hospitalized twice due to health issues from lead exposure.

President Joe Biden’s proposed Build Back Better plan—currently blocked in Congress by all Republican senators and two Democrats—would further invest about $80 billion toward remediating lead pipes and paint, according to a White House fact sheet.

Lead exposure is such an issue in the US that researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Quest Diagnostics last year found 50% of children 6 and younger have lead in their bloodstream. Lead exposure can lead to slowed mental and physical development, brain damage, and hearing and speech problems in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The only solution here is to get rid of lead in our pipes, in our paint,” Harris said.




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