By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The US Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Tuesday. This $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will go towards shoring up the nation’s infrastructure with funding for roads, bridges and railroads.
It will also extend toward providing access to high-speed internet to Americans, providing clean drinking water and upgrading the power grid, while creating job opportunities.
In a statement signed by USCCB committee chairman on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Paul Coakley, the US Bishops welcomed the development and expressed gratitude for the bipartisan efforts of members of the Senate to pass the bill.
They also reiterated their interest, earlier stated in a letter to Congress in April, in seeing “how the package affects those on the margins of society and protects God’s creation.”
“Aware that our environmental challenges are too big for any one bill,” the bishops said, “we are pleased that the legislation reflects an integral ecology, with historic investments in public transit, rail, bridges, and clean drinking water, and emphases on climate change mitigation, carbon capture and climate resilience. It is also very good to see expanded broadband internet access and the creation of new jobs.”
Other areas of concern
The bishops went on to draw the attention of Congress to other areas that need intervention, including “investing in decent housing and rental assistance, continuing the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, making the Child Tax Credit permanently refundable, expanding access to in-home care for family members, and ensuring quality and affordable childcare options.”
The statement also urged the lawmakers to work toward ensuring “paid sick leave, parental leave, and other supports for families, as well as legalization and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status/Deferred Enforced Departure holders, migrant agricultural workers, and other undocumented essential workers.”
In addition, the bishops reiterated Pope Francis’ recent appeal for universal access to good and affordable health care.
No taxpayer funding for abortion
The bishops then restated their resolute insistence that “no taxpayer funding go to abortion,” stressing that “it is critical that any proposal to expand health care coverage avoid an expansion of taxpayer funding” for it.
They also lamented a provision in the current legislation that “would advance a false understanding of gender and sexuality,” and affirmed that “Catholic institutions must be free to serve everyone with respect and dignity in accordance with our beliefs.”
“As work continues,” the bishops said,” we ask Congress to give consideration to these views and work together to promote the common good and the dignity of every human person.”