NEW YORK — Following the U.S. Senate’s vote to move forward with a major overhaul of the tax system, the U.S. bishops labeled both the House and Senate bills as “fundamentally flawed” and urged congress to make major changes during the reconciliation process.
The vote fell along party lines, with 51 republicans voting in favor of the bill, and 49 democrats and one republican voting against it. The House and Senate will now attempt to reconcile their different bills, and President Donald Trump has pledged to sign the tax reform legislation into law before Christmas.
The bill has come under sharp criticism from Catholics for its considerable tax breaks for corporations and policies that would disproportionately affect low-income families.
On Saturday, Bishop Frank Dewane, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said further analysis and recommendations from the bishops would be forthcoming, but “Congress must act now to fix the fundamental flaws found in both bills, and choose the policy approaches that help individuals and families struggling within our society.
“For the sake of all people — but especially those we ought, in justice, to prioritize — Congress should advance a final tax reform bill only if it meets the key moral considerations outlined in our previous letters.”
In the two letters, sent to the House and Senate respectively, the U.S. bishops outlined six moral principles that they believe the bill must consider: care for the poor, the strengthening of families, maintaining the progressivity of the tax code, raising adequate revenue for the common good, avoiding cuts to poverty programs to finance tax reform, and incentivizing charitable giving and development.
Throughout the House and Senate debates, the U.S. bishops have maintained that any tax reform must prioritize “care for the most vulnerable among us.”