Rep. Vela of Texas and Rep. Lee of Nevada Co-Sponsor Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act (HR 3396)

According to IFFGD and the official Congressional legislative database, at the end of October 2019, Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX-34) and Representative Susie Lee (D-NV-3)  have added their support as a co-sponsors for HR 3396, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2019. IBS Impact thanks them for taking the time to learn about the needs of the  functional GI/IBS community.

Representative Vela is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives. His district, the 34th Congressional District of Texas encompasses all or part of 11 counties from the Texas-Mexico border to more than 250 miles north, including Bee, Cameron, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Hildalgo, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, San Patricio and Willacy Counties. According to his official House website, Representative Vela is currently a member of 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 of functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, which are already very common in the general population.

Representative Lee is serving her first term in the House of Representatives. Her district, the 3nd Congressional District of Nevada, includes part of Las Vegas and south, including Henderson and portions of unincorporated Clark County. She is currently a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Representative Lee’s official House website is at this link.

In officially supporting HR 3396, Representatives Vela and Lee join Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5), who is the initial sponsor, as well as co-sponsors, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8), Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-2), Representative Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY-4), Representative Max Rose (D-NY-11), Representative Paul Gosar (D-AZ-4), and Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2).  IBS Impact appreciates the support of all these Members of Congress. 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 3396, please see the previous post from July 18, 2019 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 2018 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 3396 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 3396.

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 3396 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 116th, the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2020. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 3396 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, HR 2311 in 2016, and HR 1187 in 2018. 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.


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