Representatives Engel of New York and Pocan and Kind of Wisconsin Co-Sponsor HR 2311 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

According to IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance and the official Congressional legislative database, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), and Ron Kind (D-WI-3) have recently signed on as a co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015.

Representative Engel is serving his fifteenth term in the House of Representatives. His current district, the 16th Congressional District of New York  encompasses the northern portion of the Bronx, which is one of the boroughs of New York City, as well as parts of suburban southern Westchester County. Representative Engel is the first co-sponsor who is also a current member of the Subcommittee on Health, where HR 2311 is  under consideration.  See the linked website for a list of all current members. Representative Engel has a long record of supporting  a wide range of veterans’ issues and health issues, as seen on his official house website. 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 Pocan is serving his second term in the House of Representatives. His district, the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin, encompasses Dane County, Iowa County, Lafayette County, Sauk County and Green County and parts of Richland and Rock Counties, including the state capital of Madison and environs. According to his official House website, Representative Pocan is a member of the House Committee on the Budget, and he supports various health and veterans’ issues.

Representative Kind is serving his tenth term as a member of the House of Representatives. His district, the 3rd Congressional District of Wisconsin, represents the western part of the state, including La Crosse, Eau Claire and Platteville. Representative Kind’s official House website can be found at the link. Representative Kind has a record of supporting veterans’ issues. He is also a former member of the Subcommittee on Health and was also a co-sponsor of HR 2239 in the 112th Congress (2011-2012) and HR 842 in the 113th Congress (2013-2014), previous versions of HR 2311 which did not pass. IBS Impact thanks him for his continuing  support over three successive Congressional terms.

If you are a constituent of Representative Engel, Representative Pocan or Representative Kind,  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, Representative Engel, Representative Pocan and Representative Kind  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), Representative David Young (R-IA-3), Representative David Loebsack (D-IA-2), Representative Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12), and Representative David Joyce (R-OH-14), and Representative Sean Duffy, (R-WI-7) If you are a constituent of any of these Representatives, please thank them as well.

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.

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