U.S. Senate Must Reject H.R.1

Bill passed by House of Representatives is an assault on EPA, NIH, CDC and Affordable Care Act

Washington D.C. (February 19, 2011)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association

The U.S. House of Representatives failed to protect the public health of all Americans by passing H.R.1. This bill ignores public health and will have dire consequences for all Americans, especially people with lung diseases, including lung cancer, asthma and emphysema. The American Lung Association calls on the Senate to recognize that, as passed by the House, H.R.1 is toxic to public health. The Senate must start from scratch and recognize that tough fiscal choices can be made without jeopardizing public health.

Through massive budget cuts and so-called appropriations “riders,” H.R.1 is a severe assault on the health of all Americans. As passed by the House of Representatives, H.R.1 will:

  • decimate U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect the public health from life-threatening air pollution through appropriations “riders” and by slashing EPA’s budget by approximately one-third;
  • hamstring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by reducing its budget by 25 percent, limiting its ability to protect children from tobacco and severely hampering its ability to address diseases like asthma; and
  • cut $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is working to find cures and treatments for diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and asthma.

The House of Representatives also adopted amendments that would block implementation of the Clean Air Act and its lifesaving protections. These amendments would prevent EPA from updating and enforcing standards for the cleanup of toxic mercury, carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. These provisions and others adopted by the House of Representatives in H.R.1 would result in millions of Americans—including children, seniors, and people with chronic disease such as asthma—being forced to breathe air that is unhealthy. Breathing air pollution can cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and shorten lives.

This bill also blocks implementation of the Affordable Care Act, meaning pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid would no longer be guaranteed help in quitting smoking; seniors will once again face the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole”; and children with asthma would again be denied coverage because of their pre-existing condition.

The House’s actions in passing H.R.1 are not consistent with the public’s views. 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; and a bipartisan 69 percent majority believe that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards.

It is now up to the Senate to succeed where its counterparts in the House failed. The Senate must protect the public health by restoring funding for these critical agencies and eliminating any rider that would hamper EPA from implementing the Clean Air Act, or delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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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 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.lung.org.