According to THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, and IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance, on June 6, 2013, one day after Digestive Health Congressional Call-In Day, Representative James (Jim) McGovern (D-MA-2) signed on as a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2013.
Representative McGovern is serving his ninth term as a member of the House of Representatives. He currently represents Massachusetts’ 2nd district in the central part of the state, including large portions of Worcester, Hampshire and Franklin Counties and small sections of Hampden and Norfolk Counties. According to Representative McGovern’s official House website, he has a record of supporting many pieces of legislation on health or veterans’ issues. As previously discussed on this blog on August 12, 2011 and August 25, 2011, military service members and veterans are at disproportionately high risk for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, which are already very common in the general population.
If you are a constituent of Representative McGovern, please take a few minutes to write or call with your thanks for his support of HR 842 and the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.
In officially supporting HR 842, Representative McGovern joins the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-5), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Representative Susan Davis (D-CA-53), and Representative Peter Welch (D-VT). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative McGovern’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well. Although Congressional Call-In Day is over for this year, ongoing advocacy for HR 842 needs to continue every day.
According to the information on THOMAS, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. Click on the link above if you would like to see a list of its members.
U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 842 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support, please see the previous post from March 2, 2013 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so. Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention. Keep in mind that your Representative may be different from before because of the 2012 elections, district boundaries that may have been re-drawn, or if you have moved.
Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.
HR 842 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact, is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 842.
NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.
It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 842 will not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 218 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 113th, the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2014. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 842 has not passed by that time, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering co-sponsors anew. This is what occurred with HR 2239 in 2012. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.
Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for further updates on HR 842 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.