WASHINGTON -- Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said Wednesday that Congress needs to ensure that everyone at fault in the Flint water crisis answers for their crimes.
“We need to make sure that those responsible for this thing meet the accountability standard. They should be arrested. They should be tried,” Conyers said.
Does that include Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder?
“Sure does,” Conyers told The Huffington Post afterward. “He’s No. 1.”
Conyers is the first member of Congress to publicly say that Snyder or anyone involved with the crisis should be arrested, though others have called for criminal investigations. Conyers, along with other House Democrats, signed a letter of support in February for Attorney General Loretta Lynch's announced criminal investigation into the crisis.
But he has been on a tear the last 24 hours on Capitol Hill. Conyers introduced a bill to reform Michigan’s emergency manager laws on Thursday morning, met with families from Flint on the Hill later Thursday for Snyder’s testimony in front of Congress and held a press conference Friday with Rev. Al Sharpton to formally introduce the bill.
Conyers said he's just getting started.
Congress needs to hold more hearings, he said, not only about Flint but also about lead poisoning throughout the United States.
“We don’t want to act like we’ve done just this one where tragedy has struck already. There is lead and other contaminants in our water supplies that are being examined for the very first time,” Conyers said. “It’s in that spirit I come to this issue. We need more enforcement, more oversight and more concern.
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) wouldn’t completely back Conyers' remarks, but he said that a criminal investigation should look at every individual involved in the water catastrophe, including the governor.
“If they determine the facts support prosecution, they should go with the fullest extent of the law,” Kildee said.
Conyers, however, stuck to his guns about Snyder needing to be behind bars.
“When you’ve poisoned the water, or allow the water to be poisoned, that’s against the law,” Conyers told HuffPost. “People end up with fatal diseases. Children are stunted in their growth and development. Seniors are grievously ill because of that. We can’t allow that to be happening. And we have to stop it wherever we can.”