Coakley: Senate bill covers many needs, but must not allow funding for abortion
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate makes “historic investments” in transportation, climate change mitigation, job creation, expansion of ‘Internet access and other areas, but several issues still need to be addressed, the US bishops’ domestic policy said. chairman of the committee.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said Catholic bishops “continue to be determined in our insistence that no taxpayer funding be spent on abortion.”
The bishops also disagree with a provision in the bill that “would promote a false understanding of gender and sexuality,” he said, referring to a section that establishes grants to expand access to the top. debit.
To be eligible for these grants, the bill states that organizations applying for them must comply with the program’s anti-discrimination protections, ”including“ sexual orientation ”and“ gender identity ”.
Archbishop Coakley, chairman of the American Conference of the Committee of Catholic Bishops on Home Justice and Human Development, released the statement on August 10, shortly after the Senate approved the Infrastructure Investment Act and employment in a bipartite 69-30 vote.
The 2,702-page bill provides for spending over a five-year period for roads and bridges, railways, public transportation, ports, airports, power grid, electricity supply systems. water, broadband and other priorities. It includes $ 550 billion in new spending.
The bill now goes through the United States House of Representatives. Members plan to end their summer vacation early and return to Washington on August 23 to review it.
“We are grateful for the bipartisan efforts of members of the Senate to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” Archbishop Coakley said. “As the bishops wrote to all members of Congress in April, we are particularly interested in how the package affects those on the fringes of society and protects God’s creation.”
“It is essential that any proposal to expand health care coverage avoids increased taxpayer funding for abortion,” he said.
In the last week of July, the United States House passed a dozen supply bills without the long-standing Hyde Amendment and other pro-life endorsements prohibiting federal taxes from directly funding government. abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.
U.S. bishops and several national pro-life organizations have criticized the move and urged senators to include pro-life language in measures submitted to them.
Regarding the broadband subsidy provision in the Senate Infrastructure Bill, the wording Archbishop Coakley referred to says:
“No individual in the United States can, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability, be excluded from participating. , be denied the benefits of, or be the victim of discrimination within the framework of a program or activity financed in whole or in part by funds 16 made available to carry out this (program).
Archbishop Coakley said the bishops noted the provision “with disappointment” and added: “We affirm that Catholic institutions must be free to serve everyone with respect and dignity in accordance with our beliefs.”
The provision has also raised concerns among other religious leaders, including the Religious Freedom Institute.
Institute officials told Deseret News: “Rural faith-based colleges and universities, small faith-based businesses and faith-based hospitals and medical clinics, sometimes the only health services for miles away, could be forced to violate their religious conscience. or be refused participation in the program.
The April 22 letter Archbishop Coakley referred to was sent by him and four other USCCB committee chairs to all members of the Senate and House. In it, the American bishops offered “a moral framework and points of importance for your consideration”:
- Create jobs for the poor and marginalized.
- Guarantee safe, “decent” and affordable housing, and strengthen families.
- Cultivate integral ecology.
- “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees.
- Respect the rights and dignity of every human life in health care.
- Preserve religious freedom.
- Expand high-speed Internet access.
- Manage tax revenues and public spending in the service of “development and solidarity”.
In addition to Archbishop Coakley, the letter was signed by the chairs of these committees: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Religious Freedom; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, pro-life activities; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, communications; and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, migration.
A number of the issues highlighted by the bishops are part of the infrastructure bill, but Archbishop Coakley said Catholic leaders “urged Congress to continue working together to address” several more.
These include, he said, investing in housing and rent assistance; continuation of the extension of the labor income tax credit; make the child tax credit permanently refundable; expand access to home care for family members; and supporting families through affordable child care options, paid sick leave and parental leave.
The bishops are also pushing for legalization and a path to citizenship for those covered by deferred action programs for child arrivals, temporary protected status, delayed forced departure programs and for others in the country. the country illegally.
“As the work continues, we call on Congress to take these views into consideration and work together to promote the common good and the dignity of every human person,” Archbishop Coakley said.
Immigration reform and a host of other issues are addressed in the Senate Democrats’ $ 3.5 trillion planned spending plan. At 4 a.m. (EST) on August 11, Democrats approved a plan for the plan in a 50-49 party line vote.
News reports said Democrats “plan to push through” over the next few months using “budget reconciliation”. The process, created under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, allows a simple majority to pass certain types of legislation.