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Congress Grills Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder On Flint Water Crisis

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Someone should resign. That was the message today from members of a Congressional Oversight Panel looking into the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. The state's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder testified, along with EPA chief Gina McCarthy. And while there seemed to be general agreement that someone should lose a job, Republicans and Democrats disagreed on just who that someone should be. Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: In his grilling before the committee today, Gov. Snyder acknowledged the state's mistake in the lead contamination crisis, but he also blamed the EPA and others while defending his administration's response.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICK SNYDER: I took immediate action as soon as I learned there was a lead issue. We started issuing filters to people, doing water testing...

PLUTA: Congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat, was having none of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATT CARTWRIGHT: Gov. Snyder...

SNYDER: And to be open with you, I wish more would have been done.

CARTWRIGHT: ...plausible deniability only works when it's plausible, and I'm not buying that you didn't know about any of this until October 2015. You were not in a medically-induced coma for a year.

(LAUGHTER)

CARTWRIGHT: And I've had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies.

PLUTA: Cartwright was one of several Democrats who called on Snyder to resign. For his part, though, Gov. Snyder says he's not going to take that advice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SNYDER: My commitment is to fix the problem.

PLUTA: While Democrats attacked Snyder, Republicans took aim at EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, saying her agency was slow to act once it became aware of lead in Flint's drinking water. Here's Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz taking McCarthy to task.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASON CHAFFETZ: You take no responsibility. You don't think you did anything wrong, right? You don't think there's - anybody did anything wrong.

GINA MCCARTHY: I already indicated that we could have worked more aggressively...

CHAFFETZ: Yeah.

MCCARTHY: ...and I wish we had.

NAKYIA WAKES: Everybody's still playing the blame game. Nobody wants to take responsibilities.

PLUTA: Nakyia Wakes came to Capitol Hill from Flint by bus caravan. While Wakes says she doesn't feel any closer to getting answers, she says she did get one thing out of her trip to D.C. She got to take a bath at the hotel and drink water right out of the tap. For NPR News, I'm Rick Pluta on Capitol Hill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.