House Passes Summer Lee Amendment Highlighting Need to Reduce Lead Exposure at Schools and Childcare Facilities to Protect Children

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov 

House Passes Summer Lee Amendment Highlighting Need to Reduce Lead Exposure at Schools and Childcare Facilities to Protect Children

Passage of Lee’s amendment comes days after new report showing lead in drinking water at Dozens of Western PA schools  

(Washington) DC – Today, the House passed Congresswoman Summer Lee’s amendment highlighting the need to protect children’s health by increasing funding for testing and remediation of lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care facilities. This amendment was added to the FY2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Last week, WTAE reported new records showing lead in drinking water at 36 Western PA schools and one district, New Kensington-Arnold, that does not do any lead testing. Pittsburgh Public Schools recorded the highest lead levels in the region. Last year, the highest numbers were 371 parts per billion at Conroy; 468 at Colfax K-8, and 919 at Oliver Citywide Academy – 61 times the EPA limit.

Lee said, “With lead detected in an appalling 80% of Allegheny County water systems and now 36 Western PA school districts, my fight for federal investments to clean our drinking water has never been more urgent to ensure kids in Western Pennsylvania can grow into healthy adults. I was proud to help announce a $52 million federal award to Pittsburgh from the Administration to help upgrade and replace dangerous aging infrastructure in June, and today I am glad that the House passed my amendment calling to increase lead testing at schools and childcare facilities – places that ought to be safe havens for our children. But as someone who grew up in and now represents a community ravaged by environmental racism, I remain laser focused on fighting Republicans’ dangerously cruel plan to cut billions of dollars dedicated to environmental health programs, jobs, and justice in underserved communities. It’s time to end environmental racism and guarantee clean air and clean water for every person in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

At Broad Street Elementary in Butler, testing last year found lead levels nearly twice the maximum limit recommended by the EPA. One of the areas with high levels was the school nurse’s office. Records show Butler has recorded high lead levels throughout the district, including the high school cafeteria, forcing the district to close water fountains and replace fittings.

Lee’s amendment will specifically address the tremendous need for additional investment in lead testing in Western Pennsylvania: 

The inclusion of Lee’s amendment makes clear the desperate need for this funding despite Republicans’ ongoing attempts to cut funding for many essential programs necessary to protect children against toxins in the air and drinking water. 

Republicans’ proposed 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes $25.4 billion, which is $13.4 billion below the 2023 level, a cut of 35 percent. The legislation: 

  • Hinders the U.S. response to the climate crisis and fails to address the growing number and severity of extreme weather events by cutting efforts to reduce carbon emissions and community resiliency programs. 
  • Cuts funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which are critical programs that enable institutions, such as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, to serve as educational assets in their communities.
  • Slashes funding for national parks, threatening Americans’ ability to enjoy public lands. 
  • Exacerbates environmental discrimination against rural and poor communities by defunding environmental justice initiatives. 
  • Incites hate and discrimination by prohibiting funds for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, censoring commemoration of LGTBQI+ pride, and prohibiting the Smithsonian Institution from highlighting the contributions of American Latinos in U.S. history and culture. 
  • Rescinds programs in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that support investments in underserved communities and create high-paying jobs. 

Lee offered three additional amendments to the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which would

  • Strike language from the bill that rescinds Inflation Reduction Act funds for environmental and climate justice grants.
  • Provide $11,000,000 for educational and outreach activities that help communities understand and interpret data surrounding local air pollution concerns.
  • Increase funding for the Energy Community Revitalization Program to $30 million.

Since taking office in January, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $870 million brought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 1,330 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

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