This was probably the first of many times Congress will step into the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and it was explosive.

On Wednesday, a House committee hearing gave us a glimpse of where things could go. Lawmakers expressed bipartisan shock and anger about how residents of a mostly poor and black Michigan town were piped poisoned water for nearly 18 months while being told it was okay to drink.

Their takeaway: This was a failure at every level of government, from city to federal. And despite the resignation of at least three state and federal officials related to the crisis, almost every lawmaker there Wednesday agreed that more people should be held accountable.

It's an issue that evokes passion on both sides — and that was clearly on display Wednesday. Here are six telling moments from the hearing:

1. U.S. Marshals were told to 'hunt' down a witness


Witnesses, from left, Joel Beauvais, acting deputy assistant administrator, Office of Water, Environmental Protection Agency; Keith Creagh, director, Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan; Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech professor, Environmental and Water Resources Engineering: and Flint resident LeeAnne Walters are sworn in on Capitol Hill on Feb. 3 prior to testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine the ongoing situation in Flint, Mich. (Molly Riley/Associated Press)

On the other side of the table from Congress sat a resident of Flint who helped bring to light the water scandal, a Virginia Tech professor who uncovered lead in the water, a state environmental official and a federal environmental official. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) also testified.

But almost every member of Congress was frustrated about who wasn't there, although for different reasons. The committee's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), was irate that Flint's former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, had refused to testify. Congress issued a subpoena to Earley on Tuesday, but Earley's lawyer said there wasn't enough time to make it to Washington. (Also on Tuesday, Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that Earley is stepping down from his current job as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools.)

"Most of the people that appear before the committee ... we do not need to compel them to attend," Chaffetz said. "Participation, though, before this committee is not optional. When you get invited to come to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, you are going to show up."

Then, he went a step further.

"We're calling on the U.S. Marshals to hunt him down and give him that -- give him that subpoena," Chaffetz said.

The audience -- some of whom had traveled from Michigan and even Flint-- applauded. Chaffetz kindly asked the group to avoid applauding (a nugget that will become notable in the next big moment).

2. An impassioned plea for thinking about the kids


Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). (Molly Riley/Associated Press)

After Chaffetz spoke, it was ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings's turn to get mad that someone wasn't there. Cummings (Md.) was upset that Snyder didn't appear, and he alleged it was a political calculation on the part of Republicans running the committee not to invite him. (By way of explanation, Chaffetz later said he doesn't think the state government falls under Congress's jurisdiction.)

Cummings submitted a letter from all of the committee's Democrats requesting Snyder appear.

Then, talking about the young people affected by the lead in the water, he quoted singer-songwriter Cat Stevens: "Oh, very young, what will you bring us this time? You're only dancing on this Earth for a short time. Oh, very young, what will you leave us this time?"

He went on, his voice rising: "And I've often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see. The question is, what will they leave us and how will we send them into that future? Will we send them strong? Will we send them hopeful? Will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No, we will not do that!"

When he was done, Chaffetz told the silent crowd, "You should have applauded to that." And they did. It was a notable display of bipartisanship, because Chaffetz and Cummings often spend these hearings yelling at each other.

3. The human face of those affected


LeeAnne Walters, a resident of Flint. (Molly Riley/Associated Press)

One of the most emotional moments of testimony came with Flint resident LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who helped bring the tainted water to light by inviting Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards to the city to test for lead, shared her story.

Her children were drinking water that was more poisonous for them than hazardous waste, she said. "My home used to be a place of comfort and safety from my family," she said. "That was taken from us."

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said he can remember when his daughter tested positive for lead and asked Walters -- the first member of Congress to directly do so -- "How are your children?"

Not well, Walters replied. "My children are dealing with health issues," she said. "The one with the lead poisoning has a compromised immune system. He's only gained three and a half pounds in the last year."

Clay: "So you believe they have suffered serious impairments?"

Walters: "Yes, Sir, he's still dealing with the anemia, and he developed speech issues."

As Clay started talking again, Walters wiped away tears, then steadied herself for the next question.

4. Comparing Snyder to a criminal


A bottle of water from the home of Melissa Mays of Flint, Mich., sits on the table on Capitol Hill. (Molly Riley/Associated Press)

No passionate hearing in Congress is complete without someone insinuating someone of power is a criminal.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) did just that when he said Snyder "got caught red-handed poisoning his citizens" and accused Snyder of trying to spread the blame, like criminals do.

"Can anybody tell me why Governor Snyder is not here today?" he asked rhetorically. "Because he's hiding, that's why."

Snyder, who has apologized twice for the crisis and is still facing scrutiny for letting it happen under his watch. A new poll found that 69 percent of Michigan residents disapprove of his handling of the crisis in Flint, but just 29 percent think he should resign.

5. Bashing the EPA


Joel Beauvais, acting deputy assistant administrator in the EPA's Office of Water (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In his second round of questioning, Chaffetz zeroed in on Joel Beauvais, the acting director of water quality for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chaffetz asked Beauvais why, when the EPA had information in January that the water might have lead levels in it, it did not act immediately.

Beauvais said he didn't know. And Chaffetz went off:

"You cannot come to a hearing before Congress and be in charge of water quality for the EPA and not know the answer to that question," Chaffetz said. "You can't. The crying shame is when they knew there was a problem, they should have told the public. ... They should have been out there to warn people like Ms. Walters."

Beauvais sat stoically.

6. 'We are the last line of defense'


Leroy Jackson of Flint speaks to media on Capitol Hill on Feb. 3 after attending the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine the ongoing situation in his city. Michigan should have required Flint to treat its water for corrosion-causing elements after elevated lead levels were first discovered in the city's water a year ago, the state's top environmental regulator says in testimony prepared for congressional hearing. (Molly Riley/Associated Press)

There was plenty of outrage in Wednesday's hearing to go around, but few do it as passionately as Cummings, the longtime top Democrat on the committee.

He asked Keith Creagh, the interim director of Michigan's beleaguered state environmental department, whether the state would consider paying residents' water bills, because the water is still not safe to drink. Flint residents had been protesting their water bills, tearing them up and burning them in front of city call recently.

"Why would they be paying for water that they cannot even use that is poisoning them?" Cummings asked, yelling so loudly his voice echoed across the room. "That's not American. As Mr. Chairman said, this is not a third-world country. Are they paying those bills? Are you going to relieve them of that?"

Creagh replied calmly: "Everyone deserves safe water, and that's the expectation." He said Snyder announced $30 million to help with some of those bills.