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What We’re Reading: $1.5T Spending Package; Purdue Offers Settlement; Redlining Leads to Breathing Dirtier Air


The House passes a $1.5 trillion spending package that does away with pandemic relief and adds the Violence Against Women Act; Purdue awaits a judge’s approval for a $6 billion settlement for its opioid case; redlining laws led to 45 million Americans breathing dirtier air decades after they were removed.

House Passes $1.5 Trillion Spending Package

The House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion spending compromise, along with billions of dollars in emergency aid for Ukraine. However, Democrats were forced to remove $15 billion in pandemic relief in order for the bill to pass after several House members argued against paying for relief using their home states’ stockpiles of pandemic cash, according to Politico. The relief aid was supposed to expand access to vaccines and prepare the United States in the event of another variant.

Additionally, NPR reported that the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law that provides survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence with resources, was added to the package. VAWA, originally enacted in 1994, lapsed 4 years ago due to partisan disputes over the potential addition of gun provisions that Republicans argued against. Senators compromised on the law, with Democrats backing down on the gun provision.

Purdue Awaits Approval for Opioid Settlement

Purdue Pharma is waiting for a bankruptcy judge to approve a $6 billion settlement as part of its case with 20 states and the US Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog over its handling of opioid medications, according to Reuters. Purdue, the maker of OxyContin (oxycodone), the drug at the heart of the opioid epidemic in the United States, has been sued thousands of times over their practices surrounding the drug’s promotion. If the settlement is approved, the Sackler family would pay between $5.5 billion and $6 billion to a trust that will be used to pay the claims of opioid creditors, including states, victims of opioid addiction, hospitals, and municipalities. The agreement replaces a previous $4.3 billion agreement that was upended on appeal after 9 attorneys general and others argued against the Sacklers being protected from current and future opioid lawsuits as part of the agreement.

Redlining Left 45 Million Breathing Dirtier Air

Decades of redlining laws that allowed for federal housing discrimination based on race led to 45 million Americans breathing in dirtier air 50 years after the laws were reversed, as reported by The Washington Post. Redlining laws, which gave free reign to government mortgage officers to keep Black and Latino Americans from obtaining loans to purchase houses in predominately White neighborhoods, led to depreciated home values, lower job opportunities, and created impoverished communities, causing many non-White communities to live with more smog and fine particulate matter from cars, trucks, buses, coal plants, and other nearby industrial sources. When breathed in, air pollutants can inflame human airways, reduce lung function, trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions, damage the heart, and cause strokes

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