According to IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance and the official Congressional legislative database Congress.gov, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) has recently signed on as a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015.
Representative Lofgren is now serving her eleventh term in Congress. She represents California’s 19th District, which encompasses parts of Santa Clara County, including most of the city of San Jose and the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy. According to Representative Lofgren’s official House website, she has a record of supporting health care issues, including co-leading a 2014 letter from several Representatives to the National Institutes of Health advocating for increased research funding for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), which often overlaps with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you are a constituent of Representative Lofgren, please take a few minutes to write or call her with your thanks for her support of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.
In officially supporting HR 2311, Representative Lofgren joins Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) , who is the initial sponsor, and was also the initial sponsor of two previous versions beginning in 2011, and the first co-sponsor, Representative Andre Carson (D-IN-7), who was a previous co-sponsor in 2013-2014. If you are a constituent of Representative Sensenbrenner or Representative Carson, please thank them for their ongoing commitment to the FGIMD Research Enhancement Act as well.
According to the information on Congress.gov, 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 2311, please see the previous post from May 18, 2015 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 2014 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 2311 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 2311.
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 2311 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 114th, the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2016. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 2311 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 and HR 842 in 2014. 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 2311 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.