By Vatican News staff reporter
US Bishops have welcomed a landmark $430 billion bill to address climate change, reduce prescription drug costs and establish a minimum tax on large corporations, which, if enacted, would represent the largest investment into cutting greenhouse gas emissions in US history.
Entitled the "Inflation Reduction Act," the measure passed the Senate along party lines on Sunday, and is expected to be approved on Friday by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill has been more than 18 months in the making and represents the final version of the “Build Back Better Act”, President Joe Biden’s recovery package, which had to be reduced and reworked from his initial proposal after receiving opposition from Republicans and key legislators from his own party.
It includes the record sum of $369 billion in funding for investments in clean energy, domestic manufacturing of batteries and solar panels, electric vehicle tax breaks and greenhouse gas reduction efforts. While the bill is largely focused on addressing environmental concerns, there are also a wide range of provisions that would reach across the economy, including the health care sector.
In a statement Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, hailed the passage of the bill in the Senate.
“I am grateful to the Senate for their efforts to support the environment and lower drug prices through the Inflation Reduction Act. It is also prudent that this legislation contains revenue provisions to offset the investments when concerns around inflation and the economy are high.”
The Archbishop of Oklahoma City remarked that: “Climate change is a global challenge that requires courageous, long-term action from Congress”, noting that the many substantial climate provisions contained in the bill “bring the United States closer to honoring its emissions reductions goals under the Paris Agreement, which Pope Francis has strongly encouraged us to meet”.
This, he added, “is a meaningful effort to care for our common home”, while “seeking to safeguard the economy and give preference to the poor”.
The statement also welcomes the provisions in the bill that will lower prescription drug costs for those who rely on Medicare, while reiterating the US Bishops’ call for lawmakers “to ensure all healthcare policy respects the inherent dignity and right to life of every human being”.
Among the measures included in the bill there is a three-year extention of expanded subsidies for uninsured people to pay for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The subsidies were scheduled to end in December under the American Rescue Plan passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.