President Trump has threatened to veto the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets spending levels for the Pentagon. As part of his rationale, he’s singled out two measures having to do with PFAS chemicals.
PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to cancer among other health problems.
Several sites of PFAS pollution have been found at current and former military bases.
U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee supported a provision which would require the Department of Defense phase out the use of two major PFAS by 2029. A second measure would require PFAS-free water be made available for agricultural use in areas where contamination exceeds the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.
“I just can’t understand why the president would not be willing to commit to the problem that the Defense Department has made that the Federal Government has contributed to,” Kildee said. “It’s beyond comprehension.”
In the statement on a proposed veto the Trump administration wrote that requiring the DoD to provide clean water could have a “significant impact” on the department’s mission.
Kildee believes that if anything the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect the public from PFAs contamination. He has introduced an amendment that would require the DoD to phase out its use of PFAs by 2025 - four years sooner than the bill currently requires.
The Trump Administration raised concerns about the 2029 timeline, saying that while the DoD is “aggressively” pursuing PFAs-free firefighting foams there is not yet a viable alternative.
The President raised concerns about other portions of the bill as well, saying that it did not authorize enough funding for national defense and objecting to a provision which would prohibit the use of DoD funds for the construction of a border wall.
Kildee said he’s surprised PFAs are even on the President's radar.
“I’m not sure where this is coming from. It could be the people within the EPA who have been very reluctant to deal with this problem,” he said. “It also could be the Defense Department, who frankly have been a problem in this, don’t want to deal with this change.”
A vote on Kildee’s proposed amendment is expected on Thursday.
A vote on the final bill is expected Friday.