According to IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance and the official Congressional legislative database Congress.gov, Representatives Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) and Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) have recently signed on as co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015.
Representative Loebsack is serving his fifth term in the House of Representatives. His district, the 2nd Congressional District of Iowa encompasses most of the southeastern region of the state including the cities of Davenport, Iowa City, Clinton and Ottumwa, among others. According to his official House website, Representative Loebsack is currently a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which includes the Subcommittee on Health. He has immediate family members currently serving in the military, previously served on the House Committee on Armed Services, and also has a strong record of supporting 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.
Representative Rothfus is serving his second term in the House of Representatives. His district, the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania encompasses most of the southwestern region of the state including all of Beaver County, and parts of Allegheny, Cambria, Lawrence, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties. According to his official House website, Representative Rothfus has a record of supporting various veterans’ issues and is currently a member of several caucuses related to other specific health conditions.
If you are a constituent of Representative Loebsack or Representative Rothfus, please take a few minutes to write or call him with your thanks for his support of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.
In officially supporting HR 2311, Representatives Loebsack and Rothfus join Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) , who is the initial sponsor, Representative Andre Carson (D-IN-7), Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), and Representative David Young (R-IA-3) If you are a constituent of any of these Representatives, please thank them 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.