Senate Must Prioritize Investments in a Healthier Future in Budget Bill

Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation makes some progress toward protecting lung health, more investments are needed

In response to the Senate’s passage of bipartisan infrastructure legislation, American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer issued the following statement:

“The Senate’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package is a step toward investing in a healthier future for all Americans, but much more is urgently needed. The package contains $2.5 billion for electric school buses as well as some funding for climate aid. It also codifies into law the smokefree policy on all Amtrak trains.

But the bipartisan infrastructure legislation falls far short of what is needed to protect lung health. The overall level of investment in electric transportation is much lower than what is needed, for example. The bill also includes disappointing provisions that would actually perpetuate the use of combustion fuels for new school buses.

“The Senate now has an opportunity, as work begins on the budget process, to provide both immediate and long-term health benefits for Americans by investing in programs and policies that will reduce dangerous emissions, clean up air pollution, right environmental injustices and quality and affordable healthcare for all.

“Going forward we urge the Senate and the House to invest in programs that will safeguard lung health, such as:

  • The transition to electric vehicles and ports, specifically by funding $20 billion total for electric school buses – an investment a majority of voters say needs to be prioritized.
  • Clean, non-combustion renewable energy sources.
  • Committing to environmental justice by ensuring 40% of the investments in pollution cleanup goes toward underserved communities.
  • Making permanent the increased generosity and eligibility for advance premium tax credits that were included in the American Rescue Plan.

“All Americans deserve access to quality and affordable healthcare, protection from unhealthy air pollution and a livable climate. We appreciate the countless hours that senators put in to get the bipartisan infrastructure framework through the Senate, but we caution against thinking the funding levels of the bill are enough.

“Congress must not miss this opportunity to be bold in the face of the immense concurrent challenges we face. From the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, Americans are experiencing multiple threats to their lung health. Congress must swiftly act to make investments in a healthier future through the upcoming budget bill.”

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Cook
[email protected]

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