Representatives Carson, Payne, Lofgren and Faso Co-Sponsor HR 1187 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

According to IFFGD and the official Congressional legislative database Congress.gov, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed on in April and thus far in the first half of May 2018 as co-sponsors of the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017. They are Representative Andre Carson (D-IN-7), Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) and Representative John Faso (R-NY-19).

Representative Carson, who was first elected the House of Representatives in an special election in 2008, is now serving his fifth full term in Congress. He represents Indiana’s 7th District in the central part of the state, which encompasses most of Marion County and the city of Indianapolis.  According to Representative Carson’s official House website, he  has a record of supporting health care and 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. He was also a co-sponsor of HR 842, and HR 2311, previous versions of the same bill that did not pass. IBS Impact thanks him for his long support of the functional gastrointestinal disorders community.

Representative Payne, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 to complete his father’s term after Donald Payne, Sr.’s death, is currently serving his third full term in office. He represents the 10th District of New Jersey, which includes parts of Essex, Union and Hudson Counties. According to Representative Payne’s official House website, he currently belongs to the House’s Men’s Health Caucus and has a record of supporting several health-related bills. IBS Impact appreciates his support of HR 1187.

Representative Lofgren is now serving her twelfth term in Congress. She represents the 19th District of California, 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 currently is a member of numerous caucuses for specific medical conditions and  has a record of supporting health care issues, This notably includes 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). She was also a co-sponsor of HR 2311, a previous version of HR 1187 that did not pass. IBS Impact thanks her for her continued support of the functional gastrointestinal disorders community.

Representative Faso is serving his first term in the House of Representatives. He represents New York State’s large and wide-ranging 19th District, which is comprised of all of Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties, and portions of Broome, Dutchess, Montgomery, and Rensselaer Counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Catskills and Central New York. According Representative Faso’s official House website,  he has already supported several legislative efforts related to health and veterans. IBS Impact appreciates his co-sponsorship of HR 1187.

In officially supporting HR 1187, Representatives Carson, Payne, Lofgren, and Faso join Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5), who is the initial sponsor, and co-sponsors, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2), Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20) Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3), Ron Kind (D-WI-3), and Gwen Moore (D-WI-4).  If you are a constituent of any of these legislators, please take a few minutes to call, write, or contact him or her on social media to thank him or her for his  support of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 1187, please see the previous post from March 21, 2017 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 2016 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 1187 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 1187.

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 1187 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 115th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2018. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 1187 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, HR 842 in 2014 and HR 2311 in 2016. 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 1187 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.

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