American Lung Association Calls for Spending Bill to Protect Public Health

Washington, D.C. (March 10, 2011)

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to protect the public health by passing H.R.1.  The American Lung Association applauds the Senate for recognizing this failure, and rejecting this harmful bill.

We now call on the House and Senate to work together to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year in a way that protects the health of all Americans, especially our children, seniors, and people with chronic diseases such as asthma.

H.R.1, as passed by the House, was toxic to public health. It ignored the well-being of our people and would have had dire consequences for all Americans, particularly people with lung diseases, including lung cancer and emphysema. Among them are more than 7 million children with asthma.

We were especially alarmed that this toxic bill promoted toxic air. Through massive budget cuts and appropriations “riders,” H.R.1 would have slashed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) budget by about one third, decimating its ability to protect the public health from life-threatening air pollution.

Amendments to the bill would have blocked implementation of the Clean Air Act and its lifesaving protections. These amendments would have prevented EPA from updating and enforcing standards for the cleanup of toxic air pollutants, like soot and mercury.

These provisions would have meant millions of Americans would be forced to breathe unhealthy air that can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and premature death.

But H.R.1’s assault on public health didn’t stop at the air we all breathe. It also would have cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 25 percent.  And it would have cut $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health, as well as block implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Such cuts would have major impacts on lung health that range from cuts in medical research to cure diseases like lung cancer, to reducing efforts to keep kids from starting smoking – the leading cause of preventable illness and death in America.

When the House passed H.R.1, it also ignored the voice of the people. The American Lung Association recently released a bipartisan poll that found:

  • 69 percent of likely voters think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution.
  • 68 percent feel that Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards.
  • A bipartisan 69 percent majority believes that EPA scientists - not Congress - should set pollution standards.

The American Lung Association is pleased that the Senate recognized that, as passed by the House, H.R. 1 was public health poison.  Any bill to fund the federal government must protect the public health by restoring funding for critical agencies.  The message for congressional leaders moving forward is that tough fiscal choices must be made without jeopardizing public health.

###

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org.