Schnurr noted other problems facing the national conference's budget including stricter federal immigration and refugee policies that have reduced the number of cases handled by Catholic organizations, and the trade war between the U.S. and China which could affect the overall U.S. economy and thus the amount of donations coming in to the conference.
The archbishop said that it is not "sustainable" to withhold increases to the annual assessment to meet the conference's estimated $25 million budget.
"We're just kicking the can down the road," he said. "The expenses are there."
However, while the proposal fell 18 votes short of passage, Schnurr said, he expected the votes of absent bishops to push it over the finish line.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stated his opposition to the assessment increase, saying that his archdiocese's assessment amounts to $257,000 per year which, when paired with a matching donation to the Holy See, totals more than half a million dollars annually.
"I don't have this kind of money to keep increasing it [the assessment]," Chaput said. "We have huge expenses because of the sexual abuse issue and related circumstances."
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had to pay more than $32 million in settlements to abuse victims, WHYY reported, after a window for new abuse claims closed on Sept. 30 in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse that was released in August of 2018.
Chaput said that the USCCB also has more savings and investments in reserve than the archdiocese does.
"I don't think that some of the work of the USCCB is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," he said.
Cardinal Blase Cupich noted that a three percent increase for 2021 would arrive three years since the last increase to the assessment had been made. The requested increases would not even keep up with the rate of inflation, he said.
On Monday morning, the bishops also voted on "revised strategic priorities" for the conference's Strategic Plan for the years 2021 through 2024. The priorities included evangelization to "form a joyful band of missionary disciples of Jesus Christ," promoting "life and dignity of the human person," working to "protect and heal God's children," and promoting vocations to marriage, priesthood and the religious life.
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The priorities are all coequal, "much like bishops in the episcopal conference," Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, who gave the presentation on the priorities, said.
The bishops voted 214 to 4 to pass the revised strategic priorities, with two abstentions.