UPDATE: 06/13/2015: HR 842 did not pass, but a similar bill, HR 2311, is currently in the House of Representatives for 2015-2016. Please click on the HR 2311 sub-category on the right sidebar of this blog to see the relevant posts.
According to THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, and IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance, Representative Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) have all signed on recently as co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2013.
Representative Brownley is a first-term member of the House of Representatives. Her district encompasses much of the Central Coast of California, including Oxnard and Thousand Oaks, as well as Ventura, which includes a large Navy base and veteran community. According to her official House website, Representative Brownley is a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and ranking member of that committee’s subcommittee on health, and has already sponsored or co-sponsored other legislation relating to veterans’ health. As discussed previously on this blog, veterans and service members deployed in the Persian Gulf region have been shown to be disproportionately affected by functional gastrointestinal disorders, of which IBS is the most common.
Representative Rush is serving his eleventh term in the House of Representatives. His district encompasses most of the South Side of Chicago and parts of many communities south and west of the city. According to his official House website, Representative Rush currently holds the position of assistant Democratic whip and has a record of supporting concerns related to various health conditions.
Representative Moore is serving her fifth term in the House of Representatives. Her district, the 4th Congressional District of Wisconsin includes Milwaukee and much of the surrounding area. According to her official House website, Representative Moore is currently a member of the House Committee on Budget, and also has a record of supporting concerns related to health, veterans and women. Approximately two-thirds of adults with IBS are female. Representative Moore was also a co-sponsor of the previous version of this legislation, HR 2239, in the 112th Congress.
If you are a constituent of Representative Brownley, Representative Rush, or Representative Moore, please take a few minutes to write or call with your thanks for their support of HR 842.
In officially supporting HR 842, Representative Brownley, Representative Rush, and Representative Moore join the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Brownley, Representative Rush and Representative Moore’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.
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.