July 11, 2019

Duckworth, Young, Kildee Re-Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Families from Lead in Federally Assisted Housing


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and U.S. Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) today re-introduced bipartisan legislation to protect families living in assisted housing from lead found in drinking water. The Get the Lead out of Assisted Housing Act of 2019 would help protect families from lead exposure by requiring the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to inspect for lead service lines, create a grant program to address lead contamination and allow a cross-check for lead in water when remediating a home for lead found in paint. Duckworth is the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water and Kildee is the Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus. This legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“It’s unacceptable that in the wealthiest nation in the world, children who live with their families in federally assisted housing remain at risk of suffering permanent brain damage as a result of drinking water contaminated with lead,” Duckworth said. “The threat of lead in drinking water is a national public health crisis and we have to do more to stop it. I will keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure every family in America – no matter where they live – has access to clean and safe drinking water.”

“No one should have to worry about the safety of their drinking water, but families are facing the threat of lead contamination in their homes and communities,” Young said. “Our bipartisan legislation requires HUD to identify and address lead contamination at the source. This must happen to protect the health of Hoosier families and communities across the country.”

“There is no safe level of lead, which is why it is long past time to get serious about protecting families from lead exposure,” Kildee said. “This bipartisan bill takes an important step in protecting families by requiring water testing in federally assisted housing. Families in Michigan and across the country should be able to trust that they are safe from lead in their homes. Protecting families from lead in their homes is not a partisan issue and I am proud to work with Senator Duckworth and Senator Young on this bipartisan legislation.”

The Get the Lead out of Assisted Housing Act of 2019 would help protect families from lead exposure by:

  • Requiring the Secretary of HUD to update the Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) to include inspecting for lead in service lines and lead in plumbing.
  • Creating a Healthy Homes Lead in Drinking Water Grant pilot program to provide grants to states and local governments responsible for developing consolidated plans for community development. These funds would be used to identify the threats posed by lead in drinking water and take steps to protect residents. Activities under this grant program include creating a lead service line inventory, testing for lead in the drinking water at child care centers and schools, testing for lead at public facilities like public water fountains, and remediation.
  • Including testing, notification, and controlling for lead in drinking water when providing grants for the lead-based paint hazard reduction program. This will ensure that when a home that contains lead-based paint is being remediated, that lead in the drinking water can also be addressed if a threat exists in the same home.
  • Ensuring HUD has the authority it needs to address lead contamination from water, air, or industrial sources in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Duckworth has been a strong advocate of strengthening protections against lead poisoning and other toxins and she was a harsh critic of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s failure to combat lead poisoning while he was in office, grilling him at committee hearings over his refusal to protect American children and families from contaminated water. She also joined forces with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tom Carper (D-DE) to create the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus to raise awareness of the many environmental and pollution issues that have created public health challenges, which disproportionately impact low income communities and communities of color, including lead poisoning. Duckworth has also been critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back drinking water protections and vocal about the need to strengthen initiatives to prevent lead contamination. 

Yesterday, Duckworth announced the introduction of the NO LEAD Act with Congressman Kildee. Duckworth has also introduced the Get the Lead out of Military Housing Act, which would protect military families from the threat of lead poisoning in their homes and schools by improving testing and inspection for led, in April of this year. Key portions of this bill were included in this year’s Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In August of 2018, Duckworth wrote, along with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), to several Trump Administration cabinet officials asking the President’s interagency task force on lead exposure to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.