Mother of hospitalised boy shares drawing of superhero taking on ‘lead monster’ with Kamala Harris

Deanna Branch’s son has been poisoned twice by leaking lead pipes. ‘Too many little boys and girls are going through (what my son) went through’ she tells VP

Bevan Hurley
Tuesday 25 January 2022 20:40
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<p>Vice President Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee to promote the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday </p>

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee to promote the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday

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The mother of a boy hospitalised twice with lead poisoning showed her son’s drawing of a superhero taking on the “lead monster” to Vice President Kamala Harris as she visited Milwaukee to promote the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

Activist Deanna Branch said her son’s illness had inspired him to create the picture book as she introduced Ms Harris to a crowd at the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/BIG STEP program in west Milwaukee on Monday.

“Too many little boys and girls are going through (what my son) went through.”

“It means a lot to me and my community that I am hearing and talking to you on their behalf.”

Ms Harris said Ms Branch had “put out the call, and it was heard” as she touted the bipartisan infrastructure bill which includes $15bn for lead pipe replacement nationally.

“We are long overdue to get this done and we will get this done and generations of Americans will forever benefit because of the work that is being done right here in Milwaukee,” Ms Harris said.

“Eliminating lead exposures in our nation must be among our nation’s highest priorities.”

The Biden administration announced a plan last month to remove or replace all lead pipes over the next decade.

However, Congress only approved $15bn for lead service line replacement in the infrastructure bill – about a third less than what the White House and water experts say it would cost to replace them nationally.

In Milwaukee alone the cost to replace lead pipes on all public and private property is estimated to be $800m.

“This funding is a welcome relief after years of advocacy,” Ms Branch said.

“But we also know that is not enough. We need more to replace the 70,000 lead pipes that are still in Milwaukee and the many, many more across the country.”

The White House estimates between 6 million and 10 million US households and 400,000 schools get water through lead service lines, which can leach particles of the neurotoxin into drinking water and potentially cause severe developmental and neurological issues – especially when consumed by children.

In recent years, the risks facing cities with lead service lines have come into focus, most notably after the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.

The visit by Harris to Wisconsin is her latest across the country to promote the infrastructure law.

Agencies contributed to this report

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