By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the passage of the House tax reform bill, Bishop Frank Dewane, head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, labeled the bill as “deeply flawed” and called on the Senate to “pass a law that demonstrates that our nation prioritizes care for the most vulnerable among us.”
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 227-205 to pass major tax reform legislation. The bill includes a permanent corporate tax cut and eliminates the mortgage interest deduction. While the vote largely fell along party lines, 13 Republicans joined with Democrats in opposing the bill.
President Donald Trump has vowed to sign a tax reform bill into law before Christmas, however the Senate must first pass its own bill and the House and Senate bills must be reconciled before it can reach the president’s desk.
In his statement on Friday, Bishop Dewane praised the House for restoring the adoption tax credit, which had previously been cut, but he criticized it for repealing benefits for families who receive adoption assistance from their employers.
“It is greatly disappointing that the U.S. House of Representatives ignored impacts to the poor and families,” said Bishop Dewane, who added the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently analyzing the Senate bill and an analysis will be forthcoming.
“Senate legislation has also been scored by the JCT (Joint Committee on Taxation) as raising taxes on the working poor while giving large tax cuts to millionaires,” Bishop Dewane warned, and encouraged the Senate to pass legislation “in which Americans can fully understand the implication of tax proposals which will be voted upon.”
Last month, the U.S. bishops sent a letter to members of Congress urging that any tax reform legislation should be guided by six major principles: 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.
The bishops have urged that any comprehensive tax reform should have “thoughtful deliberation,” and should be guided by the preferential option for the poor, a plea that was repeated by Bishop Dewane as the U.S. bishops met in Baltimore this past week for their annual fall assembly.