The U.S. Senate is working on its version of a health care bill. The House passed its own bill last month.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has highlighted certain positive elements in the Senate bill, but reiterated the need for Senators to remove unacceptable flaws in the legislation that harm those most in need.

Bishop Dewane said, “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is examining very closely the new Senate ‘discussion draft’ introduced today and will provide more detailed comments soon. It must be made clear now, however, that this proposal retains many of the fundamental defects of the House of Representatives-passed health care legislation, and even further compounds them. It is precisely the detrimental impact on the poor and vulnerable that makes the Senate draft unacceptable as written …

“The Bishops value language in the legislation recognizing that abortion is not health care by attempting to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortion or plans that cover it. While questions remain about the provisions and whether they will remain in the final bill, if retained and effective this would correct a flaw in the Affordable Care Act by fully applying the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections. Full Hyde protections are essential and must be included in the final bill. ”

Click here for the full statement.

As the discussion continues, please contact Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst by using the USCCB’s action alert and customizing it with your own words. Stay tuned for updates.

IMMIGRATION WORKING GROUP CONTINUES

Recognizing the continued urgency for comprehensive immigration reform, a humane refugee policy and a safe border, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has extended the bishops Working Group on Immigration.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, said the group will convey a comprehensive vision for immigration reform, “to paint a fuller picture of what justice means, and what mercy means, with respect to migrants and refugees in our country today. Our purpose will be to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately – and expect to see for some time to come, albeit at a slower pace – and to proactively raise and advance the issues that we would prioritize.”

Here in Iowa, the ICC is continuing its opposition to Senate File 481, which passed the Senate last fall and will be eligible for consideration by the House when the legislature comes back in January. The bill would require law enforcement agencies to honor any immigration detainer request from the federal government, even those without a criminal warrant attached. This would be a significant change of practice for many local law enforcement staff. This has the potential of separating families over fairly minor offenses. A similar bill in Texas in being challenged in federal court.

NEWS AND NOTES

Congratulations to the Most Rev. Thomas Zinkula on his ordination and installation as bishop of Davenport yesterday. We look forward to working with Bishop Zinkula on the Iowa Catholic Conference board.

The annual Fortnight for Freedom is underway. Check out www.fortnightforfreedom.org today.

We also extend our condolences to the family of Rep. Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield), who died on June 16. He was the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Education, Environmental Protection and Agriculture Committees.