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Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday visited Wisconsin to tout how the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year is enabling authorities to improve drinking water by removing lead pipes, saying such action is a "moral imperative."
Speaking at a nonprofit in Milwaukee, Harris highlighted the $15 billion from the infrastructure measure that will fund the removal and replacement of all lead pipes nationwide within a decade. The Environmental Protection Agency has already announced the release of $3 billion that will allow states to begin the work, Harris said.
Harris framed the projects as a jobs creator and a public health effort. Ten million households and 400,000 schools and child-care facilities have lead pipes. Exposure to lead in drinking water has been linked to numerous health problems, including increased blood pressure and decreased kidney function.
Lead can do "irreparable damage to the body and brain," Harris said.
"Our children are going to school where they are potentially drinking lead-infused, poisonous water out of water fountains," Harris added. "The only solution here is to get rid of lead in our pipes, in our paints and the exposure to our children and our families are currently enduring."
Since President Biden signed the $1-trillion bipartisan law in November, Biden and Harris have been aggressively selling its projects, in the hopes of highlighting a legislative accomplishment ahead of the midterm elections. Harris has given speeches promoting aspects of the measure in California, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Harris and Biden had also hoped to campaign this year on the passage of voting rights bills and a large social and environmental spending package. Those bills stalled in the Senate.
Democrats, however, won over significant Republican support for the infrastructure deal — 13 in the House and 19 in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted for the law. Republicans opposed to the legislation said it was too large, improperly tied to the larger spending plan and did not address the right infrastructure needs.
The White House has promoted the law as a jobs creator and said it will fund repairs to aging bridges and roads, expand broadband internet access and mitigate wildfires and other natural disasters nationwide. The law will also finance the removal of lead paint in federally assisted housing, tribal housing and other low-income communities.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.